Istanbul Design Biennial 2012
Audi Urban Future Award Mobility Tracking
"Mobility Tracking" is a data visualization project using Processing language to determine the density in each of the six cubes at the Audi Urban Future Award 2012 exhibition taking place in the Hasköy Spinning Factory from October 11 until October 26 2012.
Visitors to the Audi Urban Future Award 2012 exhibition at Hasköy Spinning Factory in Istanbul might be wondering what the changing and shifting red–and–green dots on the huge screen positioned on the left side of the entrance are about. Until October 26, 2012, the closing day of the exhibition, a data visualization depicts the density and the movements of the visitors in each of the six cubes–five spaces exhibiting the competing architects’ visions for mobility in their regions and a sixth space about the Audi Urban Future Initiative itself. Mobility Tracking is the title of this project, and it tracks movements in each of the cubes – hence its name – to determine the popularity of the installations.
Mobility Tracking was conceived by the Istanbul–based artist network Nerdworking, known for their interactive installations in public spaces, and Plato Media Lab of Plato College of Higher Education in Istanbul. The collaborators had only seven days for production of the installation and adjustment of the software. "With a project at such short notice you can't even gather a team in time. We had to design an agile system, include many backups and improvise during several steps," explains Bager Akbay, a new media artist: "The strange thing is, it is as accurate as our previous experiments." In each cube, the group used normal wide–lens cameras that they mounted on the scaffolds to measure the density in each space during exhibition time. Their software system tracks the background for moving objects. It also determines the time the visitors spend walking around, and where they predominantly stand within each of the six spaces. However Nerdworking aren’t counting the number of actual visitors. "Instead, we try to understand the mass and the flow," Bager Akbay says. For the implementation the group entirely used Processing, an open–source programming language that is preferred by the developer community for generative visualizations and interactive installations. Moreover, Mobility Tracking solely consists of five Processing sketches, short software modules that were coded so that the different components of the installation could interact with each other. Each of the cameras takes a photo every two seconds and transmits the data over a wireless network to a system that detects the visitors. Then the data is shared through a Web connection with another computer. There it is analyzed and finally visualized. The data visualizations depict that–over the course of the first exhibition week–Superpool’s cube about Istanbul and Urban–Think Tank’s installation about São Paulo have been frequented more than the others. But we will know by the exhibition’s closing date on October 26 whether the winner too–Höweler + Yoon Architecture with their Boswash concept for the Boston–Washington D.C. region–is one of the most popular among Istanbul inhabitants and visitors to the First Istanbul Design Biennial. So far, we have also learned that this is an interesting project that tracks mobility within installations about mobility.