Friday, May 28, 2010

Portland Photographic Record - Landmarks

The ubiquitous nature of digital data offers unique opportunities to display data about places that tells us a much richer story about ourselves than the actual city. Case in point, spotted via A Daily Dose of Architecture - are these 'Geotaggers' World Atlas' maps generated from geographically tagged data of uploaded photos to popular image sharing websites.

Portland in whole is seen below.

:: image via Flickr - Eric Fischer

Created by Eric Fischer, the maps offer a literal snapshot of snapshots - cataloging the concentration of photographic points of interest in the urban zones. "The maps are ordered by the number of pictures taken in the central cluster of each one. This is a little unfair to aggressively polycentric cities like Tokyo and Los Angeles, which probably get lower placement than they really deserve because there are gaps where no one took any pictures. The central cluster of each map is not necessarily in the center of each image, because the image bounds are chosen to include as many geotagged locations as possible near the central cluster. All the maps are to the same scale, chosen to be just large enough for the central New York cluster to fit. The photo locations come from the public Flickr and Picasa search APIs."

While it would be obvious that the concentrations would show up at a macro-scale, it's fascinating to see some of the more localized effects (and the maps have a large-scale option that allows a clearer picture of data in specific areas). The downtown is a fascinating scribble of data worthy of framing.

:: image via Flickr - Eric Fischer

Some obvious non-centralized photographic landmarks emerge - like the views from highpoints such as the volcanic Mt. Tabor:

:: image via Flickr - Eric Fischer

And the photogenic St. Johns Bridge from Cathedral Park.

:: image via Flickr - Eric Fischer

More interesting are how the photographic lines start to create a map of the density of the city - streaming down major commercial and mixed-use corridors aligning with the land-use patterns - in this case, commercial corridors along East Burnside and to the South.

:: image via Flickr - Eric Fischer

The atlas contains 100 maps of various cities worldwide - find your favorite here.

:: image via Flickr - Eric Fischer

These maps always remind me of a passage from Don Delillo's fabulous novel 'White Noise' regarding a visit to the 'Most Photographed Barn in America', a parable on our relationship with our cultural icons. A passage to sum up:

""Being here is a kind of spiritual surrender. We see only what the others see. The thousands who were here in the past, those who will come in the future. We've agreed to be part of a collective perception. It literally colors our vision. A religious experience in a way, like all tourism."

1 comment:

  1. It is beautiful. I wonder how one might have this done for another city.


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