The Mill was recently commissioned to create an original art piece for the 2017 Day For Night festival. The result was a large-scale projection entitled UPROAR. This piece, which pays homage to the resilience of the people of Houston, simultaneously visualizes storm data from Hurricane Harvey and Twitter mentions of #HOUSTONSTRONG.
Creative Director Kinda Akash, Art Director William Arnold, and 3D Artist Jimmy Gass decided they wanted to combine art and technology, in hopes of creating something equally beautiful and informative. The first step in this process was sourcing data from the appropriate sources. Precipitation rates, wind speeds, and water levels were all provided by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. Twitter was used to track the number of tweets and retweets of #HOUSTONSTRONG over the course of 4 days.
The team then used a combination of Python, Houdini, and C4D to visualize the two vastly different data sets. Arnold comments, “An important goal of this project was to design a visual system capable of simultaneously representing the power of the storm and the corresponding human response. Usually we see these as two separate visualizations.” The result is an ever-changing landscape: the undulating yellow surface is driven by storm data, while the blue, river-like strands represent twitter mentions. As the 7-minute animation unfolds, #HOUSTONSTRONG gradually gains traction and the piece delicately transitions from yellow to blue.
UPROAR premiered at the 2017 Day For Night art and musical festival in Houston, just months after Hurricane Harvey hit. The festival, which brings together some of the world’s top musicians and artists, is held in an abandoned building, formerly known as the Barbara Jordan post office. Akash comments, “In a building originally named after a fearless civil rights leader, at a festival honoring Houston as a world-player in new media and music, our work attempts to honor resilience, solidarity, and the process of recovery, while interrogating the role of social media as emergency communication.”
No matter how powerful a storm is, it cannot fully suppress or take over a city and the will of the people.
Check out the behind the scenes film for UPROAR below: