A project by Christian Marc Schmidt & Liangjie Xia
By revealing the social networks present within the urban environment, Invisible Cities describes a new kind of city—a city of the mind. It displays geocoded activity from online services such as Twitter and Flickr, both in real-time and in aggregate. Real-time activity is represented as individual nodes that appear whenever a message or image is posted. Aggregate activity is reflected in the underlying terrain: over time, the landscape warps as data is accrued, creating hills and valleys representing areas with high and low densities of data.
In the piece, nodes are connected by narrative threads, based on themes emerging from the overlaid information. These pathways create dense meta-networks of meaning, blanketing the terrain and connecting disparate areas of the city.
Invisible Cities maps information from one realm—online social networks—to another: an immersive, three-dimensional space. In doing so, the piece creates a parallel experience to the physical urban environment. The interplay between the aggregate and the real-time recreates the kind of dynamics present within the physical world, where the city is both a vessel for and a product of human activity. It is ultimately a parallel city of intersections, discovery, and memory, and a medium for re-experiencing the physical environment.
A view of lower Manhattan with a photograph selected.
Aerial view of a topic path with the earliest record selected.
A topic path amid an extruded Manhattan basemap.
A selected photo as part of a two-node topic path.
A view of a photo taken in Central Park.
Topics are listed to the right of the screen and change according to the time selected in the timeline below.
Aerial view of a complex topic path.
View of nodes and path with terrain hidden.
Download v. 0.98 beta - 22 MB
Invisible Cities (Mac OS X)
Invisible Cities (Windows 32-bit)
Invisible Cities (Windows 64-bit)
Added support for San Francisco and Bogota, Colombia.
New service architecture improves overall performance.
Invisible Cities © Copyright 2010-11
Concept/Design: Christian Marc Schmidt
Design/Development: Liangjie Xia
Christian Marc Schmidt is a German/American designer and media artist, educated in Europe and the United States and currently residing in New York. From an interest in working with data he has adopted a parametric, process-oriented approach in his work, which is concerned with evidence, disclosure and the materiality of information. Christian earned his Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from Parsons School of Design in New York, and attended the Yale University School of Art in New Haven, where he graduated with a Master of Fine Arts in 2004. His work has received international recognition, including from the D&AD in London, the Society for Environmental Graphic Design, Communication Arts, and the IDSA, and he has taken part in exhibitions and screenings nationwide and overseas. Christian has taught in the Interactive Telecommunications Program at New York University and the School of Visual Arts in New York.
Liangjie Xia is a media artist and programmer presently based in New York City. His work explores alternative forms of communication through innovative applications of technology, his experiments vary from interactive data visualization, mobile applications to physical installations. He loves and contributes to open source projects, and hacks with whatever is handy. Liangjie recently received Master of Professional Studies degree from Interactive Telecommunications Program of NYU.