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Posts tagged art

wazzup with houellebecq; the map and the territory

I’ve just finished Michel Houellebecq’s The Map and the Territory. There’s also a piece in this week’s New Yorker about him and his new book, Submission, which imagines France with an elected Islamist President and has been widely lauded as prescient, given recent events.

But, back to The Map…it is not an elegantly written book. Nominally about the life of a passive, unintentionally successful artist and his marginal relationships with people, the characters are pretty schematic and the story more an interesting concept than a compelling narrative. I say this having read only a translation, but reviewers of the French version seem to agree on the text’s lack of style. The novel reads as more of a platform to expound on the topics below among others, rather than a character or plot driven work. I use bullets following since Houellebecq often seems to attack these subjects as virtually and almost arbitrarily inserted outline items; some apparently lifted wholesale from wikipedia:

  • the business and role of representation in contemporary art
  • police procedure and culture
  • contemporary technology, corporations and cosmopolitan influences in France
  • automobile preferences
  • dread associated with aging and physical decline
  • Parisian – versus French – village culture

Perhaps the least schematic and most emotionally resonant aspect of the story is the sad relationship of the protagonist with his father. All considered, the book wasn’t devoid of interest, if you happen to follow art, technology and contemporary culture and can tolerate a decidedly misanthropic world view. If you don’t, skip it.

weatherviz video now showing

weatherviz debuts in seattle

We live in soup of streaming data. Weatherviz is an experiment to capture some of that data and make it more tangible through the medium of kinetic art. The weatherviz system has gathered radar images from very recent weather events throughout the territorial United States. It then employs these images to drive a large, kinetic sculpture.

Using the metaphor of a song, weatherviz has compressed recent selected weather events, which have occurred over several hours, into a series of short animated performances, approximately three minutes long. Commonly recorded weather parameters are represented on – screen in an animated visual display and by components in the moving sculpture: precipitation, wind, temperature and reflectance (overall storm energy). The four moving apparatus’ of the sculpture correspond to the individual weather parameters sampled from the Internet. Extending the song metaphor, the weatherviz sculpture is like a four piece band playing a series of tunes.

As visitors watch a storm event play out on the sculpture, they are challenged to figure out which apparatus/instrument represents each weather parameter. The first demonstration of weatherviz occurred July 31st in Seattle. Watch the video here http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ixHjcsXxFNA

About the Artists:

Eric Carlson, weatherviz creator, is a cleantech consultant, architect and artist based in Washington, DC and Seattle. He has worked throughout the U.S and around the world on sustainable development programs, exhibitions and media.

Alexander Jones is a computer scientist and artist from Washington, DC. He has a particular interest in the application of artificial intelligence (AI) to embedded hardware.

Contact: Eric Carlson, AIA, LEED AP


The old line goes “Everybody complains about the weather but no one does anything about it.” We’re doing something about this state of affairs. Our art and technology project, called weatherviz, captures and makes visible a small slice of the river of meteorological data that surrounds us.  It is an automated system that downloads weather information from the Internet and uses robotics to drive a large kinetic sculpture. It also animates a constantly – changing computer visualization. The whole production will ultimately be viewable over the Internet.

weatherviz montage

using weather imagery to drive sculpture and computer animation

Weatherviz extends meteorilogical imagery seen on TV and the Internet. It takes weather data and expresses it as movement in a kinetic sculpture.  Weatherviz sculpture and media animations play back interpretations of very recent weather events from a selection of 150 locations monitored by NOAA’s National Weather Service in the territorial United States.

Weatheviz captures and animates four regularly sampled meteorological factors for each geographic locale;  temperature, wind, precipitation and total weather energy. NOAA weather stations span nearly half the globe: west to east, from Guam, in the Pacific, to St. Thomas, Virgin Islands; north to south, from Barrow, Alaska  to San Juan, Puerto Rico.

Demonstrations are slated for later this Summer in Seattle and during the Fall in Washington, DC. When visitors view the outdoor weatherviz sculpture, an electronic crawl accompanying it will identify the weather station and sampling date. Figuring out which components of the sculpture and data visualization match each other for a weather event will be part of the fun and mystery of the installation.

Stay tuned for more weatherviz info as the project reaches the demonstration stage.


We develop and market energy efficiency strategies and technologies. We focus on the building and transportation sectors, which account for more than two thirds of the energy budget.