Using XML Data Feeds

Using xml data feeds with processing is a familiar practice for me as i have worked and continue to work with-in the field of data visualisation.

I created which an application in processing with data collected by the National Data Buoy Centre’s wave buoy in the English Channel, the app visualizes the data by displaying a sine wave that draws data from an XML feed and displays it in an understandable and colourful fashion.


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The digital artist Aaron Koblin has gone along way to show what can be done with processing and data visualisation. In 2008 he used data collected from flight tracking over the United States and visualised the data using Google maps api to create paths of air traffic visualised in colour and form.


Audio-graphic – Sonic Recording

In our session this week we explored the different areas around campus with sound2013-11-27 10.41.22 recorders, this exercise helped us look at areas in a different way than we are used to, exploring the sounds that a space gives off rather than the look and aesthetic qualities of a space.

I recorded many different sounds from around campus and the city, these included trains leaving the station, water dripping from a leaky pipe and cars pulling away at traffic lights.

After going out and exploring the sonic landscape of the city, i returned to my computer and imported the file to audacity where i applied amplifying and background noise reduction effects to make the audio more presentable. I then applied an effect called ‘PaulStretch’ which stretches the clip and slows down the audio, here is the sound clip i produced, the drops at the start are from the normal recording, with the PaulStretch clip following soon after :

I found slowing down and stretching the clip gave the clip a new dynamic and allowed the listener to appreciate each drop for what it was, a build up of sound that ends abruptly. Looking at Josh Millard’s work on using stretching on popular songs, he makes Bieber sound better by using Paulstretch to make it sound almost like a classical piece.


One thing that became apparent to me when trying to get a more peaceful recording away from the road, is how hard it is to get away from the sound of traffic, i have become accustomed to the background noise but hearing it on play back was surprising how much it influenced the audio reading of a space.




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Psycho-Geography: “the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organised or not, on the emotions and behaviour of individuals.”

After looking at psycho graphic work buy Guy Debord and the work by Mark Shepherd  where he looks at suggested  random routes between A+B using roads not yet walked, i decided to look at my route to an from university and explore the psycho graphic qualities of my surroundings.


I started by looking at the area past the Student Union and leading off campus, the area in the middle of campus is actually very open for a city centre, however on the outskirts of campus are the paths you can take feel very confined and are full of unattractive buildings, almost making you want to stay in the comfortable surroundings of inner campus.



On my walk home i proceeded to head off campus towards Houndiscombe Road, this is where you’re really hit with the volume of traffic produced by a working city(and at rush hour i might add!). Pedestrians running around moving cars and cars hassling around each other really generates a feel of everyone frantically trying to get home.

6After clearing the busy road of North Road East, i find myself spat out onto Houndiscombe road, a very green, leafy, suburbia type road. There are less people here, but the walk is more effort, the way the trees have formed on the pavement obstruct you when someone else is walking the other way, almost like the trees are pushing you off the pavement, reclaiming there place in this concrete dessert.

7After travelling down the bending road i approach Mutley Plain, back to city madness. As i approach the junction the trees stop and the buildings take over once more, hittig home that you are still in one of the biggest cities in the south west.9

On the strip, its a lot to take in. Its like a mini city on a street, all kinds of shops, eateries and every supermarket under the sun, a lot of people live adjacent to this road so it has to accomadate a lot of needs. There are two types of people wandering the streets, students and locals on the way/from one of Mutley’s pubs that have a rough reputation.

10With Mutley behind me, im back to what i know and love, Connaught Avenue, a quiet leafy street.


Looking at my walk in detail like this has made me think about implications of having natural green space in our cities so that we’re not bombarded with concrete everyday of our lives. I feel it would make the place feel alot more fresh as well as doing a great deal to reduce Plymouth’s carbon foot print.

Augmented Reality

In our 203 session this week, we were looking at 3D augmented reality using layer apps such as Layar and Junaio to display 3D images on certain 2D paper pictures. I found the technology very interesting as it has a huge scope to evolve and i believe that it will be a very large aspect of everyday life in the future. Here is an example of the kind of things we were experimenting with :


However, the layer apps we were working with still have a long way to go in doing augmented reality justice, I feel that the 3D images produced aren’t rendered well so they appear unrealistic. Another limitation of augmented reality is that you have to view it through a screen meaning that displaying it to a large audience in an urban environment would be very difficult.

 Alternatively an upside of augmented reality is that because it does look so futuristic it is a great platform to display things like public artworks and for data visualisations. The example below shows one of the most practical uses for the technology to date, incorporating live data as a visualisation over the environment.


Google Maps API

In our reflexive design sessions this week we have been looking at google map API’s which uses javascript canvas to allow manipulation of google maps and data feeds within  the google API.

In the lab exercise we were asked to Locate the city of Lichfield and then using information from a council traffic website, plot the locations of all the traffic cams in the city onto the google map. Here is the out come:Image

I found the exercise very useful as it is an excellent way to plot real life data on a virtual platform and im sure i will use this ‘geo-tagging’ technique in my urban intervention next term.

Here is an example of how large organisations take advantage of the massive resource of data contained within google maps API. This video shows how Trip Advisor uses the the maps to give information on locations such as hotels and restaurants and also allows users to save there favourite destinations.


Intervention with sensors


As part of our investigation into ways to carry out a public intervention, we started looking into using motion and distance sensors with Arduino’s. We then used processing to output the sensor readings as integers which enabled us to link it to the rgb value of a shape so that as the distance increased, the colour got lighter.

When testing the distance range of the sensor, it worked more consistently within a range of 2 meters, so in order for it to be effective in a public intervention the range would have to be increased to fit to the environment where something like this person tracker could be replicated:

Comparing Public Artwork

The purpose of the public artwork done by Chris O’Shea in ‘The hand from above’ and also Christina Kubisch in Electrical Walks are to create something unordinary and entertaining, out of ordinary things that fit into our everyday lives. The artwork exists to engage artists and public alike into believing in an bigger presence, whether it being sounds from ordinary objects or a visually stimulating  screen performance.

Screen Shot 2013-12-11 at 11.30.49The artwork relates to its environment by adapting the platform in which it is being displayed upon. ‘The hand from above’ is displayed in a very public environment where it is very visible so has to entertain passers-by in in order to be worthy of the big screen. Where as the ‘Electronic walks’ is more intimate and focused making it an individual experience.