Scalable City

"The “Scalable City” is an ongoing art work that extends to various media, including gaming, immersive installations, sculptures and digital prints. Its central piece is a computer game involving users, data and algorithms as applied to urban development. As our world becomes increasingly characterized by this equation, we find ourselves inhabiting the artifacts of these relationships. Scalable City places responsibility for this on each of its users; their activities are simultaneously constructive and destructive. This work poetically draws analogies through misapplication of computational processes to design decisions and how development in general can produce unintended effects after much iteration.

This is experienced by users as their movements shape the interactions of major components of the world. Within the Scalable City are five major components: landscape, roads, lots, architecture and vehicles. Each is created by a process where real-world data are subjected to algorithmic transformations before being redeployed as elements of a new urban condition of software input/output.

Each user controls a vortex of automobiles, which continually spew copies of themselves into the atmosphere. As this vortex moves through the landscape, it causes roads to “grow”. Scattered throughout the landscape are architectural fragments. This junk is flung into the air by the car tornados and the pieces then try to reform back into houses. As they do so, they produce shanty-like facsimiles of their original form, which are scattered again into the landscape when another car vortex passes by."

-Excerpt from the Catalog for Scalable City


In addition to its role as a work of art, Scalable City is working hard behind the scenes to measure interactions between users and the game environment.  Combining eye tracking equipment with multiple measurements of user behavior, we can begin to understand the creative processes involved in navigating and creating in a virtual world.  The research methods that bridge creativity and cognition in Scalable City act as a template for the types of research projects specifically designed for the Arthur C. Clarke Center's Imaginarium.