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'On Broadway' Is a Stunning, Data-Driven Portrait of Life in New York City

Explore all 13 miles of Broadway in an interactive installation at the New York Public Library.

'On Broadway' installation exhibited in New York Public Library (NYPL). Images courtesy the artists

The neon lights are brighter than ever, and there's still always magic in the air, but these days, when you're walking down Broadway , it isn't glitter that's rubbing off—it's data. ON BROADWAY is a "new type of city view," that takes images and data collected from the 13-mile stretch of Manhattan and places it into an immersive, side-scrolling installation. 

“Today, a city ‘talks’ to us in data,” creators Daniel GoddemeyerMoritz StefanerDominikus Baur, and Lev Manovich explain. "How can we use these new information sources to represent the 21st century city?" With this question in mind, the artists, who, in the past, have created edible data visualizations, maps of the digital lives of cities, data-driven tours through thousands of selfies, and urban explorations created through Instagram feeds, have compiled reams of information, like Instagram pictures and Foursquare check-ins from Broadway, and transformed it into a new kind of city tour.

ON BROADWAY transforms the length of the iconic thoroughfare into  "a visual metaphor for thinking about the city: a vertical stack of image and data layers,” turning the entire length of Manhattan into an orchestra of easily-explored information. Inspired by Every Building on the Sunset Strip, Ed Ruscha's 25-foot-long artist book that depicts a continuous photograph of a 1.5 mile section of Sunset Boulevard in 1966, the team collected things like 660,000 Instagram photos shared along the avenue from six months in 2014, over 8.5 million Foursquare check-ins made since 2009, 158 days of Twitter posts, 22 million taxi pickups and drop-offs in 2013, info from the US Census Bureau, pictures from Google Street View, and more, and compressed life in the Big Apple down into one linear installation. The goal was to create a new understanding of NYC without using maps or graphs. The result? "Like a spine in a human body,” ON BROADWAY anchors the city in the living, breathing symphony that is visualized data.  

ON BROADWAY from Moritz Stefaner on Vimeo.

'On Broadway' installation exhibited in New York Public Library (NYPL). 

The interactive installation is currently being shown at New York Public Library (NYPL) as part of the exhibition Public Eye: 175 Years of Sharing Photography, from December 12, 2014 – January 3, 2016.

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