Flow

Completion: 2013, Finalist

Location: Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority Metro Station, Washington, D.C.

Description: Flow is inspired by the convergence of art, technology, and data visualization. As artists, we are drawn to data visualization, the use of imagery to communicate relationships across a variety of technological and scientific disciplines using multiple dimensions of data. We are also inspired by the interdisciplinary relationships being cultivated at the nearby Center for Innovative Technology. 

Slit-scanning is a data visualization and generative art technique that converts the frames of a video into an image to convey the passage of time or movement through space. For each frame of video, a single column of pixels or slit is captured. The columns are recombined to create a single image composition.

Our concept for the plaza features a sunburst design composed of tile that is graphically subdivided into 29 sections, one for each of the Silver Line neighborhood stations in the sequence they are on the line. The sections radiate outward at lengths that suggest the corresponding neighborhood's distance relative to Innovation Center. Each section contains a slit-scanned composition of the respective neighborhood's environs taken in intervals in the morning, afternoon, and evening, when most people use the Metro. This become a dynamic visualization of movement through time and space of the communities served by the Silver Line. 

As a site that has do with transportation, the Metro station is about speed and motion, the rays evoke this notion.

The slit-scanning technique creates a composition that is at the threshold between abstraction and figuration as vibrant rays of gradated color resolve into various references to neighborhood identity such as unique architecture, landmarks, bridges, murals, parks, gardens, and other meaningful streetscape elements.

A ring of light is embedded along the sunburst's inner diameter illuminating the plaza and the station canopy above at night. If deemed appropriate by WMATA and determined to be technically feasible, the ring of light might dynamically change throughout the Metro's hours of operation as the corresponding neighborhood sections of the ring illuminate brighter to indicate where the train is in real time.

This design serves as a thematic anchor for the Innovation Center Metro, as a center for cross-disciplinary research, creativity, and discovery. This project would be natural extension of our previous work, which often uses generative techniques and innovative materials to create new narratives in visual storytelling.

Architect: METALAB