Revealing The Invisible City

Under the name of Invisible Cities, New York-based designers Christian Marc Schmidt and Liangjie Xia started a fascinating information mapping project that reveals the ever-expanding invisible layer of digital activity that is everywhere around us in the urban environment.

The application, which was built using Processing, enables real-time mapping of activities on online social networks such as Twitter and Flickr by generating individual nodes that appear whenever a message or image is posted. Data is displayed by location and hills and valleys are displayed representing areas with high and low densities of data. According to the makers, Invisible Cities describes a new kind of city — a city of the mind. The application is expected to become available for download in the future.

“Invisible Cities maps information from one realm—online social networks—to another: an immersive, three dimensional space. In doing so, the piece creates a parallel experience to the physical urban environment. The interplay between the aggregate and the real-time recreates the kind of dynamics present within the physical world, where the city is both a vessel for and a product of human activity. It is ultimately a parallel city of intersections, discovery, and memory, and a medium for experiencing the physical environment anew.”