Archive for the ‘F is for Flocking’ Category

Global Moodscape

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

Photo via We Feel Fine

Our daily ventures in texting, emailing, blogging, tweeting and simply clicking has become an immense datascape of human activity, migration, interests, and lately, emotional wellness.

Several projects currently aim to track our sentiments on a global and local scale:

The Planetary Mood Ring: Billed as a ‘gigantic feelings aggregator’ works by submissions, called ‘moodies’, is sorted out by geo-spatial location and show moods of entire countries, cities or towns, highways, your own neighborhood, office or household. People are encouraged to  enrich the whole Planetary Mood Ring by attaching words, videos and photos to their moodies, revealing the cause of their current mood. The project aims to provide a massive emotional pulse check on the planet that runs continually in the form of a colored collective ‘blip,’ represented as a color wheel inspired by the mood rings of the 1970s. For example. blue and violet would signify people being in cooler, calmer and more satisfied states whilst ambers and reds would represent a civilization in a deep state of angst.

We Feel FIne: Launched in 2005 by Jonathan Harris and Sep Kamvar, We Feel Fine is an exploration of human emotion on a global scale, in the form of a website, a book and collective artwork authored by everyone. We Feel Fine harvests human feelings from a large number of weblogs. Every few minutes, the system searches the world’s newly posted blog entries for occurrences of the phrases “I feel” and “I am feeling”. When it finds such a phrase, it records the full sentence, up to the period, and identifies the “feeling” expressed in that sentence (e.g. sad, happy, depressed, etc.). Because blogs are structured in largely standard ways, the age, gender, and geographical location of the author can often be extracted and saved along with the sentence, as can the local weather conditions at the time the sentence was written. All of this information is saved.

The result is a database of several million human feelings, increasing by 15,000 – 20,000 new feelings per day. Using a series of playful interfaces, the feelings can be searched and sorted across a number of demographic slices, offering responses to specific questions like: do Europeans feel sad more often than Americans? What do people feel right now in Baghdad? Which are the happiest cities in the world? The saddest? And so on.The community is encouraged to help visualize these sentiments via the gallery.

D-Tower: D-Tower is an art piece, commissioned by the city of Doetinchem in the Netherlands, that maps the emotions of the inhabitants of Doetinchem. A collaboration with NOX, a Rotterdam architecture firm and Serafijn, a Rotterdam artist, the project utilizes a physical structure (tower) to convey the daily moods of 50 selected people from the small town, who answer different questions on the website daily. From this data, the tower illuminates to show the feeling of the day, in the form of blue for happiness, red for love, green for hate and yellow for fear.

Lars Spuybroek, architect, NOX, explains his public project of turning a tower into an emotional symbol of a small town in the Netherlands:

First, I guess, I would have to explain what a D-Tower is. That’s another collaboration I did with an artist also from Rotterdam. His name is Serafijn. He is doing a lot of art in the community, either with video or interactive, and we collaborated. We were asked to do a tower, whatever it was, but it needed to be a tower because the Mayor thought it should be a tower. And we suggested a website and they liked that idea a lot, and they said, “Yeah, you can do a website, but you also have to do a tower.” [laughs] So then at a certain moment it became a tower, a website, and a questionnaire. And the questionnaire was on four emotions: love, hate, happiness and fear. And, basically, what we do is each year 50 people are selected. There’s a small town in the East of the Netherlands, on the German border that has 50,000 inhabitants. And of these 50,000, each year 50 get the password. And these 50 people are from all the neighborhoods in the city. So it’s well represented. And each of these 50 they can access the website but we cannot because it’s a certain part of the website that’s only for them with the password. And each four days they get a new set of questions about their emotional lives.

And the website has these four landscapes. So we can see, on the website, we can see how love is doing, how hate is doing – how these four emotions are doing according to the peaks and valleys of the responses on this graph. Now what happens is that each evening when the sun sort of sets the computer can check which emotion is doing the best that day. So when love is #1 the tower becomes red. Because there is this tower in this city. With happiness, it’s blue. With hate, it’s green. And with fear, it’s yellow. So there is this object in the city, there’s this object in the city, and people come from work, it’s a very prominent place in the city. And they can actually, when they drive home and it’s getting dark, they can see if it’s green for hate or blue for happiness. That is very intense. Because the moment they see that object as having one color they know it is representing the whole city.

So this idea of qualia immediately is coloring the whole city. This is directly connected to emotions. More like a symbolism. More like a symbol.

COORDINATES: Charles/West 4th St, NYC

Saturday, July 17th, 2010


“Love is the Answer”  Artwork by Mr. Brainwash

Bansky’s upcoming film: Exit through the Gift Shop

Deciphering the Movement of Pedestrians in a Crowd

Sunday, May 16th, 2010

How do pedestrians move in the street? How do they interact? Researchers from the Centre de recherches sur la cognition animale (Université Toulouse 3 / CNRS), in partnership with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, have carried out a series of studies to improve understanding of the group behavior of pedestrians in urban environments. Published in PloS ONE, their results establish realistic models of crowd dynamics to improve pedestrian traffic management.

The mechanisms that govern crowd motion remain largely unknown. However, this knowledge is essential for the management of pedestrian flows (walking comfort, traffic fluidity, etc.) in urban areas. The lack of information is due in part to the difficulty of studying these phenomena experimentally and of building quantitative models able to account reliably for them.

For simplicity’s sake, most current models of crowd dynamics consider that pedestrians move independently of one another, trying to reach their destination while avoiding collisions. Using video recordings made in urban areas, Guy Theraulaz’s team from the Centre de recherche sur la cognition animale (Université Toulouse 3 / CNRS), in partnership with the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology, Zurich, has shown that depending on the situation, 50 to 70% of pedestrians do not walk alone but in small groups, most commonly composed of two to four members.

The study of the spatial organization of pedestrians within these groups reveals that when they have enough room, group members choose to walk side by side. Conversely, when crowd density increases the group no longer has enough room to walk abreast: the pedestrians in the middle move back slightly and those at the sides move towards each other, forming a concave structure. A group of three pedestrians adopts a “V”-like pattern. In groups of four, a “U”-like formation is observed. These configurations facilitate communication between group members, but they considerably reduce their walking speed. A concave configuration makes the group’s forward motion difficult and forces individuals moving in the opposite direction to perform avoidance maneuvers. At the scale of a crowd, this significantly modifies the spatial and temporal characteristics of pedestrian flows. Numerical simulations based on these observations demonstrate that the presence of pedestrian groups reduces overall traffic efficiency by about 17% compared to a situation in which pedestrians walk in isolation.

This study shows that it is important to take into account the highly heterogeneous composition of crowds and the presence of pedestrian groups who privilege their social activities to the detriment of their walking efficiency. This new knowledge will help improve the reliability of pedestrian traffic predictions in urban environments.

via CNRS

The Living Room Candidate

Monday, May 10th, 2010

The online exhibition, The Living Room Candidate, at The Museum of the Moving Image, presents more than 300 presidential campaign commercials from 1952 – 2008. According to the site, it was Madison Avenue advertising executive Rosser Reeves who convinced Dwight Eisenhower that short ads played during such popular TV programs as “I Love Lucy,” would reach more voters than any other form of advertising.

“In a media-saturated environment in which news, opinions, and entertainment surround us all day on our television sets, computers, and cell phones, the television commercial remains the one area where presidential candidates have complete control over their images.”

To check the Curator’s Picks from culturally historic strategies, messages and slogans, visit Living Room Candidate.

F is for Flocking

Saturday, May 9th, 2009

A flock of birds, a school of fish, swarming ants and human crowds. The study of collective behavior, where there is no centralized control but rather where self-organizing pattern formation is the result of local interaction between neighbors and their environments, is now one of the leading computation models being applied to everything from gaming and social networks to military tactics, robotics, medicine and telecommunications. One programming example modeled after the synchronized movement of birds dancing in the sky is Boids, a simple algorithm that uses three basic rules: separation, alignment and cohesion. Instrumental in swarming architecture, the aim is to design on-demand “living diagrams” constructed by real-time information, where people and space “flock” together to create structures “on the edge of form.” Although the mechanisms underlying flocking have baffled scientists for years, with naturalists in the past even concluding that flocking was telepathy, today we find it’s suggested that birds use magnetoreception to sense Earth’s magnetic field, as well as the idea from biologist Rupert Sheldrake that quantum-field mechanisms may explain this phenomenon, with the suggestion that social groups are organized and directed by fields of energy and information. As to whether or not “the wisdom of the crowds” is greater than individual intelligence, or is stupid and boring, is currently up for debate. However, it is clear that chemical pheromone exchange between ants can be compared to social messaging in networks, and swarms, which have an amazing ability to act like a collective mind or “The Superorganism,” as suggested by Harvard biologist E.O. Wilson, is undoubtedly culturally relevant in today’s interconnected times. Flock on, flock off.