Tyne visualization & archive

Tyne visu­al­iz­a­tion & archive

Flow illustration by Nicky Kirk.

Flow illus­tra­tion by Nicky Kirk.

Flowmill as seen from the balcony at the Baltic Centre For Contemporary Art

Flowmill as seen from the balcony at the Baltic Centre For Contemporary Art

Handcrafted wooden speaker, playing the audio stream from ~Flow

Handcrafted wooden speaker, playing the audio stream from ~Flow

Laser scanner, generating sound events for particles in the water

Laser scanner, gener­ating sound events for particles in the water

Measurements of values underlying Tyne

Measurements of values under­lying Tyne

Tyne is a visu­al­isa­tion of data from 5 sensor values recorded by ~Flow, a tidemill floating building on the River Tyne that gener­ates its own power using a tidal water­wheel, a project initi­ated by Ed Carter of Modular and The Owl Project. Together with Moritz Stefaner, Studio NAND was commis­sioned earlier this year to create an online visu­al­iz­a­tion which rein­ter­prets the data recorded by ~Flow. This data, which also drives beau­ti­fully built, wooden instru­ments and sound gener­ators located on board of ~Flow, is publicly avail­able on Cosm.

Each recording of the data captures the levels of oxygen, acidity, nitrates and salinity values in the water as well as the turning speed of the water­wheel. This set of values provides the basis for a flow simu­la­tion which gener­ates a unique image per measurement.

Particles are continu­ously moving from right to left, being attracted or repelled by four circular zones repres­enting the sensor values. The overall beha­vior of the particles is influ­enced by the turning speed of the water­wheel. If the value of one sensor is above its mean value, particles are repelled. If the value is below the mean, particles are attracted towards the center of the zone.
This mech­anism creates slight turbu­lences in the stream which in turn produce a single image based on the drawn paths of the particles.

Process

The artistic and manu­fac­turing quality of ~Flowmill highly fascin­ated us since the start of the project. We’ve initially built a custom server and database-driven archive to store the data from Cosm (Pachube at the time). Although being a tech­nical over­head first, this custom solu­tion allowed us to work freely with the data in the research & concept phase, in which we have developed the overall formal prin­ciple for the visu­al­iz­a­tion. This way, we were able to observe from a data perspective how ~Flowmill, with all it’s complex elec­tronics and instru­ments on board, slowly started a fascin­ating life of its own.

Tyne receives a new set of data from ~Flowmill approx­im­ately once every 30 Minutes. Because of this, we have decided early in the process to choose a simu­la­tion for the under­lying prin­ciple in the visu­al­iz­a­tion which can represent the current state of ~Flow for a flex­ible amount of time. Each run of the simu­la­tion gener­ates a unique image based on the state of ~Flow at the respective point in time.

Some initial R&D was done on Reaction-Diffusion by the Gray-Scott model, to eval­uate simu­la­tion prin­ciples which produce organic looking visual results, resem­bling wooden struc­tures in order to refer­ence ~Flows material qual­ities. Although the Reaction-Diffusion model provided visu­ally inter­esting results, it didn’t provide enough dynamic vari­ation in the browser, so we have decided to invest­igate on vector fields as a more dynam­ic­ally inter­esting simu­la­tion principle.

Process Images

Raw values as received from Cosm

Raw values as received from Cosm

Values after normalization

Values after normalization

Grouping and filtering of measurements

Grouping and filtering of measurements

Excerpt from studies using Reaction Diffusion in the R&D

Excerpt from studies using Reaction Diffusion in the R&D

Tyne was imple­mented using toxiclibsjs, three.js, NodeJS & MongoDB.