Sculpting Data into Everyday Objects

The Invisible Cities Project

Sculpting text into imaginary cities

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Cities are alive. They are vessels for people’s thoughts and emotions. Unlike cities, city models tend to be cold and technical. We are aiming to fabricate a city model full of life and expression. A model that can express the emotions that we experienced when reading the book through a changing atmosphere. Sadness can be rain, anger can be a thunder and happiness can be a sunny day. It is a conceptual project about adding behaviors and interactivity to architectural representations.

The installation consists of two parts. The first one is the actual model, a static representation of an imaginary data-generated city. We are using natural language processing, sentiment analysis and urban design techniques to produce a 3D printed miniature of a city inspired by Italo Calvino’s book “Invisible Cities.” The second part is about creating an interactive atmosphere that responds to human emotions. Using the Pepper’s Ghost technique—an illusion from theater, light and sound, we generate different atmospheres that respond to the mood of the authors when reading the book. It is a theatrical dialogue between users and an Calvino’s book, using the city model as media to express emotions.

Invisible Cities – MidtermCity1Our project review the principles of visual poetry, sculpting text into imaginary cities. Based upon Italo Calvino’s book “The Invisible Cities”, our installation aims to build a multimedia journey through text-analysis-generated 3D models of the cities described by Marco Polo to Kublai Kahn. Using the Natural Language Processing Tool Kit for Python, Rhino-Python, Processing and Kinect, our goal is to generate an immersive dream in which users can experience the two characters of the book as they navigate through the installation: traveling as Marco Polo, and listening as Kublai Khan.


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