Review: The Economist

We were commissioned to create a live data visualisation for the international Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House. The following is an excerpt of the Economist review of the immersive installation we created:

There are some spectacular exceptions. … Even more satisfying is “London Data Streams” (pictured, top), a wall projection by the data-visualisation studio Tekja. The piece is a projection of three dense columns of text showing the application programming interface (or API) for Twitter, Instagram and Transport for London. This is the raw data used by, for instance, the app Citymapper, to plan journeys for its users. As you stand there hypnotised by the text, your silhouette blocking the projection and intruding on the columns, you are awash in data.

“London Data Streams” works because it remains true to the medium: virtual bits of text on a screen remain virtual bits of text on a screen. Attempts to show data as artifacts fail because physical things are finite. A book can be read. A printed chart will find a wall big enough for it. But an endless stream of information that no human can process, let alone completely consume, is hard to fit within the three-dimensional confines of an object. With “London Data Streams”, Tekja achieves the impressive feat of immersing viewers in data in the real world.