John Metcalfe was CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, covering climate change and the science of cities.
Skyscrapers are flashing monoliths, and cars are rushing rectangles.
Ryoji Ikeda is a Japanese artist and electronic musician known for his mathematical, almost monochromatic explorations of light and patterns. On a visual level, his stuff’s great for zoning out, but it’s often based on heavy scientific concepts—one recent room-devouring piece combined particle smashing with space-time symmetry with the European Organization for Nuclear Research.
Now, you can see the Paris-based artist’s scientific harmony applied to one of the most chaotic places on earth: New York. Patricio Gonzalez Vivo, a graphic engineer at Mapzen, has channeled Ikeda to create a spinning, 3-D view of the city torn from a universe of pure data. Skyscrapers have become flashing, scrolling monoliths, and traffic white veins of rushing rectangles. All else is void, pure blackness.
The map loads to New York, where Gonzalez Vivo is based, but you can warp to any location to give it this cyberpunk transformation. Explore it here, and be warned zooming far out might cause your browser to sputter and protest.