Responses by Rare Volume.
Background: The purpose of Atmospheres was to create an educational, interactive experience combining generative art, technology and scientific data to visualize the natural and human phenomena of Barcelona. The 26-meter-long (~85 feet) projection is part of the Hyperview Barcelona exhibit, set inside the landmark Mirador Torre Glòries, which was recently reimagined as a cultural destination for learning about the city’s unique ecosystems. We created eight pieces visualizing wind, sea, sound and astronomical data.
Design thinking: To get visitors to engage with very in-depth, very scientific data and in a uniquely large format, we knew that we had to marry cinematic, iconic elements with a clean, modern data interface.
Wind features a flag-like banner flowing across the panoramic canvas, created using physics simulations based on real meteorological patterns while representing a range of data such as speed, direction, air quality and aerobiology.
Sky Above Us is a real-time, overhead astronomical view of Barcelona revealed through a lens reminiscent of a telescope.
Soundscapes is a four-chapter audio visualization of sounds captured from nearby rivers, oceans, mountains and urban zones, revealed through a spectrographic visual system.
Our Sea pairs symbiotic datasets from Barcelona’s port and the Mediterranean, such as water acidity and CO2 emissions, set against a photorealistic rendering of the sea that responds to tidal and wave agitation data.
Challenges: The brief was wide open, so we started with a rigorous content strategy, experience design and data research phase. The total timeline was about eleven months, and we spent almost five months on this phase. We chose the four selected concepts from an initial set of ten. The brief, the design concepts and the data research all continued to influence one another until we landed on a cohesive narrative that balanced beauty and function.
Favorite details: Each piece can function as both a nonlinear, passive viewing experience and an interactive, structured linear narrative. And if visitors have only a short time to spend with Atmospheres, each piece has an entirely unique visual language and data story. But if visitors have the time to engage with all of them, they will experience a narrative and design throughline that weaves a more complex story.
New lessons: We’re always excited for any data visualization project where we can collaborate closely with experts in the given field. We were honored by the time given to the project from academics and researchers in the fields of aerobiology, astronomy and marine biology, among others.
Visual influences: Conceptually, we were influenced by large-scale, panoramic visual metaphors that would surface the unseen in nature, from sound waves to flight paths to fabric and water simulations. We sought to balance artful representations of those elemental sources with easy-to-read, motion-driven data overlays to provide an opportunity for visitors to experience a clear interpretation of the abstractions.