"A studio is a place of study. Use the necessity of production as an excuse to study. Everyone will benefit." —Bruce Mau
At Stamen, we’re glad to embrace this part of Bruce Mau's Incomplete Manifesto for Growth. For us, every project is an opportunity to learn about something new, be it North American bird migration or how viral images spread on Facebook.
In the summer of 2014 we decided to take this idea a step further and create a fellowship program, in collaboration with Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, Autodesk, SPUR and Harvard. The program offered a few talented students the opportunity to not only hone their visualization and mapping skills, but to get experience working in a design studio as well.
Fostering the growth of a budding colleague couldn't be more rewarding. Working with the fellows, we're able to be involved with design and research of art and urban design projects. As much as we teach, we also get to dive into areas we're curious about, like physical prototyping. We become both students and teachers in the process, and so do our fellows.
The task for this year was to make something visible about the city of San Francisco that was previously invisible. Take a look at what our fellows came up with below. If you're interested in applying for 2016, please reach out.
2015 Fellowship Projects
Steve found ways to collect and displays real-time data from and about the Mission District in San Francisco, including weather, social media words, emoji use, instagram colors, public transportation, and real estate stats. His experiments in visualization worked on temporal, social, and civic aspects of the neighborhood. Urban Heartbeat collected these experiments into a street installation that invites exploration of real-time, generative data visualizations. The visualizations were placed as live screens on Mission Street, engaging passers-by with data from the neighborhood.
Following a series of personal projects about urban plantlife, Jill examined the invasive plant species in California, and the effects they had on local ecosystems (the impact to both native plants and other wildlife communities). She used species observation data gathered over the last 100 years to map the spread of invasives through time and space. Related historical moments and cultural anecdotes related to these plants were connected to the visualization to flesh out the story of their role and consequences to California.
Coming out of trips to Senegal and Mali, Andrew became inspired by Dutch Wax Block Print Fabrics, which are ubiquitous to much of West Africa, and often incorporate everyday objects such as: computers, cell phones, binoculars, and USB cables. For the fellowship, Andrew created a series of San Francisco Block Print Fabrics, combining data and objects specific to this time and space in the Bay Area. Using Processing and csv data, the images and data can be swapped out, resized, recolored, combined, rotated, spaced, and more using parametric software sliders, toggle switches, knobs, and keyboard input. These patterns were then digitally printed to be turned into clothing and other textiles.
Joe and Elaine investigated ways of collecting and visualizing localized changes in air quality due to small proximity changes - highways, parking lots, parks. They set up a air sensor system that could test fluctuations and show levels with LED light displays. They then started photographing these LED levels with long exposure photography to see air quality at a particular time and space, and literally in the landscape it came from. This type of hyper-localized, physical data visualization in the end appear encapsulated in these images.
Carlo set of in search of a way to visualize and understand vertical oriented weather data in the Bay Area. In search of data, he started working with the Integrated Global Radiosonde Archive and weather balloons data from the Oakland Airport. Oakland Atmospheres works to reconcile this 70 years of data, and create a display that can access this data and engage users with vertical oriented weather data.
Lindsay investigated the changing water’s edge in the Bay Area through geologic time. Mashing up past and future projections of where land and water converge, she created a timeline of the last 18,000 years of the Bay Area, and the projected next 100 years, showing the constantly changing condition between water and land in San Francisco.
2014 Fellowship Projects
New York City has a single transit operator. As does Chicago and most other major cities. But not the Bay Area. We have not five, not ten, but over 20 independent transit operators in our growing metropolitan area. What does this mean for commute time and cost? How is the region affected? What does this mean for it's future? In this project, Andreas explored all the data he could find about this issue through making map after map after map. See one of them in the Urbanist and all of them on his project site at http://www.oxav.org/old/13_WEB/index.html.
My City Sounds is an extension of software engineer Kristin Henry's master's project from University of San Francisco, in which she wrote an application to collect sound recordings. In this project, she collected sound recordings of her walks between Gray Area's space and Stamen's office. She then transformed them into a soundscape visualization of this moment of San Francisco's Mission district.
Every city has some kind of system for dealing with water – cisterns, sewers, pipes, hydrants, water cleaning facilities. Yet if you want a map of this basic infrastructure, good luck finding it. In this way our water systems are hiding in plain sight. All of this changes in Water Works, where Scott Kildall has brought these underground systems to the surface and mapped them in 3D using a combination of mapping technology, 3D printers and laser cutting machines. He also produced a series of digital maps. One of them even tells you where your poo goes. View the full project on kildall.com.