Opinion

Artist Visualizes the Waves from Thousands of Miles Away

LOS ANGELES — We have so many ways of remotely viewing the world. From webcams of zoo animals to data sets about weather, it’s so easy these days to take a peek at what’s happening somewhere else.

I recently came across “Tele-Present Water,” an installation by artist David Bowen that taps into data from a buoy in the Pacific Ocean. The buoy, affectionately known as Station 46246, is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, is then translated into a mechanical grid hanging on the other side of the world, at the National Museum in Wrocaw, Poland.

As Co.DESIGN rightly noted, this is groundbreaking for many reasons, not least because it shows the power of 3D data visualization but also because it brings us closer to a world where the internet and things collide:

The reason you have a buoy with a web page (and an RSS feed) is so that the buoy can tell ships and other interested parties about what’s going on without human intervention. It’s a world where a hypnotic art piece is just an interesting and very human side effect.

This isn’t Bowen’s first foray in global telepresent data visualization, which has been making, ahem, waves in the data viz community. His “Tele-Present Wind” project captured wind patterns at the Visualization and Digital Imaging Lab at the University of Minnesota and visualized at Laboratoria Art & Science Space in Moscow.

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