Scott Kildall, a cross-disciplinary artist who combines networked performance and algorithms to make art works that invite public participation, thinks "outside the bowl," if you will.
His Water Works is a 3D data visualization, mapping and printing project which takes the water infrastructure of San Francisco as its subject matter.
Calling it a "relational investigation," Kildall created three large-scale, 3D printed sculptures.
"I have been playing the role of a 'Water Detective, Data Miner' and sifting through the web for water data," Kildall says. "My results from this thee-month investigation are each paired with an interactive web map, and the projects that resulted are San Francisco Cisterns, Imaginary Drinking Hydrants and Sewer Works."
Kildall's work has been exhibited internationally at venues like the New York Hall of Science, Transmediale (Berlin), the Venice Bienale (Internet Pavilion), Furtherfield (London) and the San Jose Museum of Art.
The city of San Francisco provides a project called The Open Data Portal. It's a website which includes geo-located data sets ranging from incidents of crime to parking meter locations and construction permits.
According to Kildall, these open data sets are critical to his work. He uses them to create his prints and maps.
"For someone such as myself who constructs art objects with data, the difficulty has been getting access to rich datasets that are relatively easy to use," Kildall says. "Over the next several years, data from the Open Data Portal will evolve into real-time data streams with interfaces for public access. I expect to see an explosion of helpful apps and creative reuse of data."
Along with the 3D printing he uses to output his works, Kildall likens data to sculptural materials such as clay, plaster or steel.
"By using code to transform columns of numbers into 3D models, I call myself a 'data miner,' where I extract data into small gems," he says. "I'm still experimenting with legibility and aesthetics. The primary question that drives this work is the question of 'what does data look like?'"
The work was part of a Creative Code Fellowship sponsored by Gray Area, Stamen Design and Autodesk.
Sewer Works utilized some 30,000 data points of the San Francisco sewers and the final web-map and scultpure is called Life of Poo. The artist says it represents an interactive journey through the sewers. He relied on the Department of Public Works in San Francisco to provide him a dataset of the pipe connections and sewer nodes.
His San Francisco Cisterns is a map of the 170 underground cisterns located within the city of San Francisco, and his Imaginary Drinking Hydrants is a depiction of potable water faucets attached to specific fire hydrants which can be used by the general public.