A Inside Look at Future Cities Lab's Datagrove

A Inside Look at Future Cities Lab's Datagrove


ZERO1 connected with 2012 ZERO1 Biennial artists Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno of Future Cities Lab. Johnson and Gattegno have collaborated on a range of award-winning projects exploring the intersections of architectural design with advanced fabrication technologies, robotics, responsive building systems and public space. They opened up and gave us some great insight of their exciting project that is coming to downtown San Jose September 12 - December 8, 2012. Check out what they had to say about Datagrove and the Biennial:

ZERO1- Can you describe your project for the 2012 ZERO1 Biennial?

FCL- Datagrove is an outdoor media installation that thrives on data mined from its local environment. It operates as a contemporary ‘whispering wall’ that harnesses real-time Silicon Valley Twitter words and trending topics. It collects these invisible data streams and translates them into synthesized speech and light. The installation, located in downtown San Jose, is constructed out of a complex weave of digitally fabricated steel and translucent tubes that suspend glowing interactive ‘whispering’ pods and LED lights. 

ZERO1- How are you "Seeking Silicon Valley?"

FCL- What is usually invisible and insular becomes visible and tangible at the urban scale. Datagrove reveals the real-time digital whispers of what Silicon Valley is excited about, what it is currently debating, thinking and blogging about. Datagrove is a grove of constantly changing information, a fibrous structure with interwoven media pods that transmit geo-located social networking feeds. It provides a place to interact with and visualize the data of a region that is rich in cultural, political and technological dialogue. It provides citizens with a place to learn, explore, exchange and contemplate the underlying trends and desires of Silicon Valley.     

ZERO1- Why are you excited to be part of the ZERO1 Biennial? 

FCL- ZERO1 is experimental, committed to innovation, risk taking, raw and urban; it is encouraging us to test our limits, push the boundaries of our work and share it with an audience of generalists and experts, amateurs and specialists. It is also grounded in Silicon Valley. It has the potential to be a catalyst for some much-needed critical discussion about art, architecture, technology and the contemporary American city. What is there not to be excited about?

ZERO1- Like the entrepreneurs and technologists who have helped make the region famous, artists are often innate risk-takers. How do you innovate and infuse risk-taking and experimentation into your work?

FCL- With every new project we attempt to push something to the limit; it may be an idea, a technology, a technique, a way of making, a way of coding or interacting. We always have a wild card or unknown component that we need to figure out through testing, trial and error, failure and hopefully success. Building something urban and outdoors also has its own set of complex issues. Transitioning our work from the safety of the gallery to the city is both nerve wracking and exhilarating.


Datagrove will open for public viewing September 12, 2012 downtown San Jose on South 1st Street during the opening week of the ZERO1 Biennial. It will be up on display through December 8, 2012. Check out Future Cities Lab on the ZERO1 Biennial website for updates and more details.