Light, Data, and Public Participation


  • Dave Colangelo
  • Patricio Davila


As practices in reactive architecture and locative media converge and urban screens and projection technologies proliferate we are becoming increasingly able to interact with data in public space. This confluence presents us with modes of digitally mediated participation in urban space that highlight bodily and architectural relationships with data rich environments as well as new sets of problems and possibilities regarding aesthetics, poetics, and politics. The article will analyze works by Alfredo Jaar, Krzysztof Wodiczko, and Rafael Lozano-Hemmer, as they respectively exemplify the efficacy of the key components of public data visualization: mapping, expanded presence through architecture, and the ”˜incompleteness’ and participatory nature of relational aesthetics. A more recent example, the E-TOWER project, an interactive data visualization project of Toronto’s energy visualized on the CN Tower for Nuit Blanche 2010, will also be examined as a form of collective participation in public data visualization. These projects provide the case studies necessary to reflect on the concept of the public, the potential of relational art strategies and the utility of play strategies for combining visualization and public space in order to enrich these spaces through the dramatization, problematization, animation, and relation of people, places, and data with from-a-distance interaction and urban screens.