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Excellence Award

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The Big Atlas of LA Pools

Benedikt GROSS

Data art [Germany]

The Big Atlas of LA Pools is about the process of mapping and mapmaking in a contemporary age of big data, open data, crowdsourcing, and citizen science. As a “twoperson army”, Benedikt GROSS and Joseph K. LEE located and traced the contours of over 43,000 pools and other manmade water bodies — features which computer vision alone could not adequately demarcate. Throughout their project, the two exploited the idea of “crowdsourcing” to process the aerial ortho-imagery of their study area in Los Angeles County and to validate their dataset using commercial online third-party services, such as “clipping farms” and Amazon Mechanical Turk. Furthermore, the authors incorporated additional layers of contextual information that might suggest surprising, intriguing or sinister spatial relationships within LA’s social and physical landscapes.

Materials: Mixed Media / 74 Books (approx. 6000 pages, 50 kg) / 4 Posters (Lambda Print, 100 cm x 145 cm) / Video (22 min.)

Techniques: Computational design, data visualization, crowdsourcing, book design, map making, GIS, data mining

©Benedikt GROSS, Joseph K. LEE
Idea & Concept: Benedikt Gross & Joseph K. Lee | Graphic Design Books: Anna-Luise Lorenz & Julia Laub | Developed with: ArcGIS, Basil. js, Processing, Python, QGIS and Shapely | Crowdsourcing: Clipping Factory and Amazon Mechanical Turk | Special Thanks: Frank Weiprecht


Benedikt GROSS


Born in 1980 in Bad Saulgau. Professor of Interaction Design at HfG Schwabisch Gmund.

( 2017 )

Award Reason

Visualizing the enormous process of mapping the pools in the LA area through the big data that surrounds us, The Big Atlas of LA Pools accentuates the outlandishness of the process by anomie. Its approach of using crowdsourcing and doggedly trying to enhance the accuracy of the big data that an individual can easily obtain is also a simulation of the grotesque craving of contemporary society and its hopes to utilize big data. The metamorphosing of this monomaniacal, mechanical process into a gargantuan map printout triggers a kind of shudder. The reason is that though this work is focused on the pool s in the LA area, it could also be set to everything around the world, and the agent of that act is needless to say, not limited to the individual. This is a fine work which candidly visualizes the various dilemmas innately contained in the problem today of utilizing big data and crowdsourcing. (GOGOTA Hisanori)

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