Art Practical: Reviews Exhibition “SENSEable Cities: Exploring Urban Futures”

Art Practical, the Bay Area’s preeminent online magazine devoted to the visual arts, had a fantastic review of SENSEable City Lab’s SENSEable Cities: Exploring Urban Futures

Copenhagen Wheel

The Copenhagen Wheel via Wired (

SENSEable Cities: Exploring Urban Futures
SENSEable City Lab
Jun 11 – Aug 11
Gray Area Foundation for the Arts
Review by Laura Cassidy Rogers

“SENSEable Cities: Exploring Urban Futures,” currently on view at Gray Area Foundation for the Arts, includes fifteen visualization projects by researchers at MIT that translate real time data from cities around the world into vibrant representations of density, volume, movement, and exchange. These visualizations are intriguing both as artistic creations and political devices. They demonstrate in practical as well as imaginative ways that matter and energy circulate and change form, and showcase the power of visual culture in helping policy-makers manage the multiple aspects of our networked lives.

Information abounds on every wall of the expansive 4,600-square-foot Gray Area gallery. A vinyl linear motif in shades of blue streams between projections of light and sound, like the lines of an avant-garde musical composition. This is a clever twist on exhibition wall labels that sets a cohesive, interconnected tone to the works on display.

MIT researchers at the SENSEable City Laboratory have seamlessly equipped smart phones, buildings, furniture, cars, and bikes to collect user data in user-friendly ways. Many of MIT’s visualizations take the aggregated data and map patterns of public life, as in currentCity (2009), New York Talk Exchange (2008), and Real Time Rome (2006). The resulting depictions contain bold colors that express the intensity and dispersion of collective action across the plane of each respective city. Though much livelier than pie charts and bar graphs, they remain flat, reminiscent of abstract paintings. While beautiful, the awesome displays of color tend to distract from and obscure the underlying data analysis and data-collecting gadgets…

You can read the rest of the review here: