Who needs to go outside when you have Instagram?
Thanks to the crowdsourced data visualization algorithm powering Michelle Chandra's new project, All Our Suns, you can watch the sunrise in real time without ever leaving your desk or dark, lonely apartment. Like Chandra's rainbow-tracking previous project, Chasing Double Rainbows, the program looks at all of the Instagram photos with a particular tag—in this case #sunrise and #sunset—and incorporates their data into a trio of live-updated maps. One tracks a the sun across the Earth's surface via these hashtags, while another tacks each posted sunrise and sunset post onto an interactive map (rollover to view the photos), and the third keeps track every time one person posts about one day's end at the same exact moment someone else posts about a new day's beginning.
Together, the three maps support Chandra's essay about the history of humanity's relationship with time, from localized sun-based schedules in pre-clock villages, to the modern atomic era of timekeeping, almost completely divorced from its reliance on the sun. "We live in a world that follows a fixed idea of time, a standard synchronized time held in place by time zones, clocks, and calendars. Instagram users reveal a different idea of time, a richly textured irregular time in which the setting sun and end of the day for one individual is the beginning of the day for another, a never-ending loop," she writes. "Instagram users who chase the sun with their cameras testify to the sun’s ceaseless grip on our lives."
All Our Suns is part of a larger project called All Our Yesterdays, which features essays about the nature of time supported by Instagram-enabled projects based on different hashtags. One documents the 77-day popularity of #rainroom during the interactive installaiton's stint at MoMA, while another showcases an Instagram's-eye-view of the 2-billion-year-old Grand Teton National Park.