Following up on its “Celebrate 40 Years of the Future” exhibition that premiered in May 2012, the Ars Electronica Futurelab has staged its next show on the corporate campus of Europe’s largest software provider. “Experience Big Data” is an interactive exhibition that kicked off on the 17th Febraury 2014 at the SAP Pavilion in Walldorf. The exhibition´s thematic background is nurtured by the global interconnectedness and the related increase in the amount of data we are sending around the world, on a daily basis. In collaboration with SAP, the Ars Electronica Futurelab has developed interactive installations, enabling the visitors of the Pavilion to explore and follow the otherwise hardly visible data streams. The particular challenge, accompanying the design of this exhibition, was based on the development of interfaces which work as translators between the digital realm, the architectural space of the SAP Pavilion as well as the visitors.
Inspired by classics of Media Art as well as deploying its expertise in the exploration of human – computer interaction, Ars Electronica Futurelab´s team has realised the following installations:
Experience Big Data – An Interactive Exhibition
20 pinwheels mounted on the ceiling make up the reception committee arrayed just inside the exhibition’s entrance. In contrast to conventional examples of this technology, these aren’t driven by currents of wind but rather by data flows fed in by visitors on site and online at www.sap.com or by various Tweets. For example is a randomly chosen pinwheel activated through each request of SAP´s webpage or, through tracking peoples´ movements, the pinwheels follow each visitor who is crossing the installation. With this pinwheels, the Ars Electronica Futurelab cites Hiroshi Ishii’s Pinwheels from the year 2000.
Big Data Wall
Once visitors stream past the pinwheels, they confront the Big Data Wall. Before the backdrop of global networking and the accompanying burgeoning of the quantities of data humankind sends out into the world, this wall tells the story of SAP. At two interactive tables, visitors can access in-depth information about all contents. From videos to images and texts all kinds of media are available, and the visitors can scrutinize selected topics through scanning theme postcards.
Big Data Panorama
Next up is the 10-meter-wide Big Data Panorama. Here, the big picture consists of two gigapixel images of Tokyo and New York, each of which is, in turn, made up 3.7 million individual shots. Visitors can use a multi-touch interface and a laser tracking system to explore these images and access stories elaborating on various aspects of Big Data. All of these stories are hidden as graphic elements in the two gigapixel images. So is a whole series of SAP posters, embedded behind each of which is additional information.
The exhibition’s final installation is the Magic Mirror. In contrast to the Big Data Panorama, it isn’t oriented on a world full of data; instead, it maintains a tight focus on one individual. The Magic Mirror is a large-format glassy surface that displays the reflection of the person in front of it and lavishly enhances that image with data particles and information. Thereby the individual human being becomes part of the Big Data Network and can relate itself to the ever increasing amount of information. The technology of this installation consists of a mix of high resolution cameras and screens positioned behind the mirrors, enabling visitors to interact with the displayed data. In this context each participant can make up his or her own mind of the effects, dangers and benefits of big data.