The Prism, an Open Data coagulation of being


Standing under Keiichi Matsuda’s Prism I couldn’t help but wonder how much more before our social existence will dwell in real-time projection of OpenData.

London based-designer Keiichi Matsuda’s creation puts emphasis on our relationship to data in a rapidly digitalized society.

View on the Ceramics Gallery

View on the Ceramics Gallery

In the form of a sculptural lantern, Prism displays a series of screens projecting real-time streams of data about London. Conceived as a representation of the city’s complexity, the installation contains 5 projectors projecting information such as transport updates, traffic webcams and environmental data. Made out of Japanese washi paper on an aluminium structure, the work of art offers a 360-degree perspective on London at the moment of speaking.

The Prism by Keiichi Matsuda

The Prism by Keiichi Matsuda

Energy consumption at Prime Minister’s home 10 Downing Street, the number of Boris bikes available and in use, wind direction on the River Thames, the data included in the project is all drawn from open data sources, including TFL, Carbon Culture and The data visualization is the outcome of a network of more than 30 coders using Processing, an open source programming language. Matt Pearson, the lead programmer on the project, created a framework for the volunteers to develop within. Moreover, he developed a custom software to allow mapping the visualizations to the physical installation.
The Prism by Keiichi Matsuda

Other facets of Keiichi Matsuda’s Prism

Commissioned by Veuve Clicquot, Matsuda’s Prism is installed in the cupola of V&A Museum’s Ceramics Galleries, opened to public visit for the first time for this event. Once we’ve laid eyes on the piece of art and immersed in a consideration on our relation to our virtual traces, we are invited to take it to the next level, literally speaking. The group of 6 visitors is guided on a spiral staircase leading on the top of the cupola displaying a wonderful view on London’s brick buildings and autumn trees. As designer Keiichi Matsuda depicts it, the project in its unity is “a kind of panorama over physical London as well as the panorama of the digital London”.

London view from the top of V&A Museum

London view from the top of V&A Museum

„The concept of the piece is about trying to expose the hidden processes and flows within the city, and recontextualise it as a mixed reality environment,“ he added. Should you like to find out more, here’s Keiichi talking about his project on Crane TV.

Photos courtesy of Shameer Subratty

Sources : Keiichi Matsuda, whom I thank for taking the time to answer my questions

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