Maps, photographs, and cinema are the principal technologies that individuals, small groups, and businesses traditionally have used to represent cities. Today, urban representations can be created by hundreds of millions of ordinary people who capture and share photos on social networks. If we were to aggregate these masses of photos, how would our cities look? How unique are the photos captured by each of us? Are there dominant themes regardless of location?
The Aggregate Eye, a project created by Nadav Hochman, Lev Manovich, and Jay Chow, investigates these questions. The collaborators downloaded and analyzed 2,353,017 Instagram photos shared by 312,694 people in thirteen cities over a three-month period. The large prints and video included in the exhibition combine these photos to reveal unique patterns. One set of images compares New York, Tokyo, and Bangkok using 150,00 Instagram photos. Another image, created by 53,498 photos taken in Tokyo over several days, depicts a gradual progression from day to night activities. A visualization of 23,581 photos shared in Brooklyn during Hurricane Sandy captures the dramatic narrative of that day.