Big Bang Data

Internet Machine
Timo Arnall – 2014
Audiovisual, 6 min
Co-produced by CCCB and Fundacion Telefonica and filmed at Telefonica Alcala Data Center

This multi-screen film reveals the physical reality of the internet. It places you inside the whirring rooms and sterile corridors where the machines that transmit and transform our data exist. Viewing the materiality of these cold hard digital spaces refutes the idea that they are intangible.


data.tron [WUXGA version]
Ryoji Ikeda – 2007
Courtesy of the artist

Ryoji Ikeda tackles the infinite scale of the world’s data in this immersive installation. He invites you to experience the universe of data that exists in the infinite space between 0 and 1. Every point in this vast sea of pixels has been strictly calculated by mathematical formulas and data sets.


Submarine Cable Map
Teleography: Markus Krisetya, Larry Lairson, Alan Mauldin – 2015
Digital Print
Graphic Design by Morag Myerscough

This map exposes the network of fibre optic internet cables that lie deep below the sea. Each one allows digital data to be transmitted around the world supporting our incredible appetite for information.


Cinema Redux: Vertigo (1958), Blow Up (1966), Jaws (1975), Kill Bill (2003)
Brendan Dawes – 2004
Print on dibond
Courtesy of the artist

Cinema Redux processes the contents of movies to generate an 8×6 pixel image every second. Every row of the final composition represents a minute of the film, comprised of 60 photograms. The result is a graphic profile of every film where the quantitative reading of each reveals the director’s style through the rhythm of the editing process and the tonal quality of colour and light. The artist carried out this process with 31 of his favourite films.


selfiecity London
Lev Manovich, Moritz Stefaner, Dominikus Baur and Daniel Goddemeyer, with support from members of Software Studies Initiative (Mehrdad Yazdani, Jay Chow, Alise Tifentale, Nadav Hochman) – 2015
Instagram images and data, custom visualisation software
Courtesy of the artists

This project explores the modern phenomenon of self-portrait photos, or selfies, in six cities around the world. By collating thousands of publicly available selfies taken in each city and shared on Instagram, it provides fascinating insights into how people in these cities represent themselves. The visualisation shows an uncanny collective portrait of Londoners and the interactive “selfiexploratory” software allows you to explore popular poses and selfie trends around the world.


I Know Where Your Cat Lives
Owen Mundy – 2014
Web-based data visualisation
Courtesy of the artists

I Know Where Your Cat Lives is a data experiment that visualises a sample of one million public pictures of cats on a world map. Each image was accessed via publicly available software provided by popular photo sharing websites such as instagram. The project explores the phenomenon of online feline appreciation as well as critically highlighting how companies use and interpret personal data, making people’s private lives much more public.

In the year since the project was launched, only 14% of the original photos are still live with coordinates, showing that over 200,000 people intentionally changed their privacy and geo-tagging settings in response to the project.



Face to Facebook
Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico – 2011
Audiovisual and interactive software
Paolo Cirio and Alessandro Ludovico Collection

Cirio and Ludovico stole information from a million personal profiles on Facebook to create characters on a false dating website,, classifying them by their facial features. The project aimed to expose the fragile nature and easy exploitation of our online privacy where our personal data is easily bought and sold. The site only existed for five days, but received over 1000 mentions in the media, 11 threats to sue, and several letters from Facebook’s lawyers.


Face Cages (#1) with Zach Blas
Face Cages (#2) with Elle Mehrmand
Face Cages (#3) with Micha Cardenas
Zach Blas – 2013 – 2015
3D printed and stainless steel
Courtesy of the artist

Face Cages challenges the way biometric data is gathered from surveillance and points to the inadequacy of standardised diagrams. To create these sinister objects, standard facial metrics diagrams were applied to a 3D scans of faces of three artists to create perfectly tailored wearable versions of the diagrams.


Stranger Visions: Sample 3 NYC, Sample 4 NYC and Sample 6 NYC
Heather Dewey-Hagborg
Genetic material, custom software, 3D print and documentation
Heather Dewey-Hagborg / Courtesy Catherine Edelman Gallery, Chicago

Stranger Visions is a series of sculptured human faces based on DNA that the artist obtained from objects such as chewing gum and cigarette butts collected in public places. Using a computer program, she correlated genetic sequences with physical traits to create 3D models of the faces of the people who could have discarded these objects.


Function: Pixelating the War Casualties in Iraq
Kamel Makhloufi – 2010
Open Source artwork

Dark Blue: “Friendly troops”
Turquoise: Host nation troops
Orange: Iraqi Civilians
Dark grey: “Enemies”

This seemingly abstract image presents data from SIGACTS (the US military significant actions database) that was obtained and made public by WikiLeaks, and subsequently cleaned by the Guardian. It shows civilians and military personnel killed during the Iraq war in military engagements involving coalition forces between 2004 and 2009.

Interestingly, the two images show the same data, but in contrasting presentations. The right hand image shows the deaths as they were reported chronologically, and the left hand image groups the deaths by the characteristics of the person killed. This highlights the power of visualisation tools in communicating meaningful messages from within a complex data set.


Transparency Grenade
Julian Oliver – 2012
Resin, sterling silver and electrical components
Courtesy of the artist

Our only tool against the lack of corporate and governmental transparency is the tedious procedure of policy reform. The transparency Grenade makes the process of leaking information as easy as pulling a pin. Equipped with a tiny computer, microphone and powerful wireless antenna, it captures network traffic and audio and streams it securely and anonymously to a dedicated server where it is mined for information. When detonated, usernames, hostnames, IP addresses, unencrypted email fragments, web pages, images and voices extracted from this data are presented on a public online map shown at the location of the “explosion”.

Interact with the Transparency Grenade:
Connect to the open WiFi network “watchednetwork”. Browse news and other websites to find out what the Transparency Grenade can capture. Please note that emails, Facebook, Instagram, passwords or Flickr accounts will not be exposed.



Liquid Traces: the Left-to-Die Boat case
Charles Heller & Lorenzo Pezzani – 2014
Audiovisual, 17min 59sec
Courtesy of Forensic Architecture

In 2012, the Forensic Architecture research project published a report on the “Left-to-Die Boat”. This referred to a boat of 72 migrants that was left to drift in the Mediterranean for 14 days in a NATO maritime surveillance area. Their distress calls were ignored resulting in the deaths of nearly everyone on board.

Forensic Architecture’s detailed reconstruction of the boat’s route and the sequence of events while it was adrift, drew international attention to the incident. They were able to turn surveillance technology against itself to build their argument, using its data as a forensic tool. The report was published in The Guardian, and Human Rights Watch launched a campaign based on the research. It was cited by the European Commission’s investigation into the incident and has formed the basis for several legal cases against the states involved in the military operations.



OpenStreetMap’s Contributor Community Visualised – Individual by Individual
Eric Fischer – 2013
Digital print from interactive map
Data from OpenStreetMap

OpenStreetMap is an online map service that is built by a community of mappers who contribute and maintain data about roads, trails, cafes, railway stations and more all over the world. With contributions from over a million participants in the last decade, OpenStreetMap offers a personal alternative to its commercial equivalent such as Google Maps. Cartographer and digital artist Eric Fischer has produced these images that show the wealth of data stored by OpenStreetMap



London 2036
Future Cities Catapult – 2015
Interactive Installation
Courtesy of Future Cities Catapult in partnership with the Natural Environment Research Council and UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis and CyberCity 3D

What would your ideal city be like, and how would you create it?
London 2036 puts you in control of London, painting pictures of many possible futures for the city through data modelling techniques. This gamified data model asks you quick-fire questions around civic problems, policies and personal preferences. It then predicts how these choices would impact the social, environmental and economic state of the city in 2036. You can compare your London 2036 to the city we live in today, and explore the model of the future London predicted by the aggregated choices of exhibition visitors.


London Data Streams
Tekja – 2015
Real-time raw data streams, live data maps and interactive explorations
Courtesy of the artists

Can the data we produce tell us what London is Thinking, seeing and doing? Tekja’s London Data Streams visualise and explore the pulse, frequency and richness of London’s live data. The piece follows three real-time information streams: Twitter posts, Instagram photos and Transport for London updates. These are presented once as complex raw data, and again as an analyzed, in-depth, live data map and a set of interactive explorations. The installation highlights the power of real-time data to reveal rich and intimate narratives about the everyday experiences of Londoners.

London Data Streams is powered by Websocket and REST APIs connecting to Twitter, Instagram and TFL live data feeds. Visualised and brought to life using d3.js and leaflet.js.