Category Archives: Announcements

New Year, New Company: Introducing The Office for Creative Research

In the fall of 2010, my friend Mike Young invited me to come to the New York Times R&D Lab, to discuss a new visualization project that was just starting to get off of the ground. That project became Cascade, and that meeting led to my two-and-a-half year stay at the R&D Lab, as the first Data Artist in Residence. Yesterday, my residency at the New York Times came to an end. This morning, I’m thrilled to announce the official launch of my new company: The Office For Creative Research.

My 28 months (the residency was originally set for four months) at the New York Times was transformational in many, many ways. Cascade, which I initiated with Mark Hansen as a conceptual prototype, became a full-fledged project supported by an entire team of designers, developers and engineers. Along with Jake Porway, Brian House, and Matt Boggie, we built OpenPaths, which continues to be an exciting model for personal engagement with data. Mark and I, working with Alexis Lloyd, also made Memory Maps, a prototype for archive exploration, in which news stories are interwoven with the personal history of the user.

These successful projects were of course accompanied by unfinished sketches, necessary failures and inevitable dead ends. I built a visualization tool for household power usage that went nowhere, a few failed archive exploration tools, and one particularly bad interface for visualizing personal connections on Twitter. The R&D group, conceived and led by Michael Zimbalist, is very much a place that encourages real exploration – and the inevitable failures that result. This freedom to explore and to push boundaries is what has made, and will continue to make NYTLabs fertile ground for ideas and innovation.

Which brings me back to The Office for Creative Research, the new company I’ve founded with Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin. OCR is a multidisciplinary research group focusing on new modes of engagement with data. We’re looking to partner with companies, institutions, scientists, museums – any individual, group or organization who is facing novel problems with data. A browse through our collective portfolio will show our range of approach, from visualization to algorithm design to performance and installation. Our unique range of skills, drawing from both the arts and sciences, give us the ability to tackle almost any problem, from the laboratory to the gallery, and everywhere in between.

We’ve outlined the mission of The Office for Creative research in this memorandum, released today, and you can see more of our work on OCR’s freshly-launched website. While we already have a set of fascinating projects on the go for 2013, we are looking for innovative new partners. Please get in touch if you’d like to explore the possibility of working with OCR. Also, we’ll be looking to hire talented people in the spring, so if you’d like to work in New York City, exploring the borders between data, technology & culture, send us a message. 

It’s going to be an exciting year. We’ll be running a series of workshops at OCR starting next month, and we’ll be publishing a journal at the end of 2013 documenting the progress of our research. For regular news and data-related commentary, you can follow The Office For Creative Research on Twitter – @The_O_C_R.

I’d be remiss not to end this post with a thank-you to the many talented people at the New York Times who made my time there so tremendously enjoyable. It’s a world-class organization, filled with world-class human beings, and I’ll always be grateful for having had the chance to spend time there.

Happy New Year,


Infinite Weft @ Bridge Gallery until October 18th

Infinite Weft -

Since early in the year, I have been working with my mother Diane Thorp to produce hand-woven textiles that contain non-repeating patterns. Weaving Information Files (WIFs) are produced via a custom-written software tool, and are then woven on a 16-harness floor loom equipped with an AVL Compu-Dobby interface.

Here’s a zoomable view of six metres (almost 20 feet) of the handwoven result:

You really (really) want to hit the fullscreen button and zoom in – it’s a 95 megapixel (25,283 x 3,738) image. Alternately, you can go here to see it in a bigger window.

You can read more about the project here, and you can see a set of images documenting the project here. The next step is to weave a much longer section – we are aiming for something above 100′.

If you’re in New York, you can see the 6 metre long section from Infinite Weft, on exhibit at Bridge Gallery in NYC, until October 10th.

Bridge Gallery
98 Orchard Street
New York, NY 10002
Subway F, J, M, Z Delancey/Essex

Visualizing Pressible: EdLab Artist-in-Residency in NYC

Visualizing Pressible: Blog Clusters & Growth of a System from blprnt on Vimeo.

For July and half of August, I’m the artist-in-residence at EdLab, a research group which is part of Teachers College at Columbia University.

I’ll be working with data from Pressible, a network of sites published by Teachers College students, faculty and staff. I’m interested in looking at the growth of this system, and in examining intertextuality between content in a network with a broad range of research interests.

I’ll posting about my process in as much detail as I can on my own Pressible site: On that site, you’ll already find some early aesthetic and structural explorations, and you’ll be able to follow along with the project as it moves towards completion.

This residency will keep me in NYC until at least the end of August; if you are in the area and would like to connect, please get in touch.

No Fixed Address: Leaving Vancouver

Urgent flight out of YVR

I’ve lived in Vancouver for 17 years (29, if you count time served in the suburbs). It’s a beautiful city, with a lot to offer. Today’s bright spring day is about as good of a demonstration of its benefits as is possible. It’s a city full of great people, doing interesting things, and as such has a long history of cultural and creative production.

All of that said, I’m leaving.

For personal reasons, I’m going to find myself without fixed address as of April 1st. After thinking it over for a little while, I’ve decided to take this opportunity to pull up roots and re-locate. I haven’t really felt at home in Vancouver over the last few months and the political situation in this province certainly doesn’t help matters. All in all, I’ll be happy to get away for a while.

I’m not sure where I will end up. I’m going to spend most of April visiting my family on Vancouver Island, and in May & June I’ll be traveling in Europe and the US to do some speaking and teaching. The plan is to give a new location serious consideration starting in July. I’ve begun to generate a short list of creative cities where I could easily live (with a dog) – if you have any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.

In the meantime, please expect some sporadicity in posts as I bounce around.

(top photo by Nick Dobbing)

YVR -> BOS -> NYC -> MSP

Next week I’m heading out for a multi-stop trip to the USA.

I’ll be in Boston for Flash on Tap from the 28th to the 31st of May. Flash on Tap looks to be a great event – not only is there an interesting speaker lineup, there are also 13 microbreweries pouring in the evenings. I’m speaking at 10am on a Friday, which might be a bit early for a pint. I’ll be talking about a raft of projects centred around a theme of emergence, including some recent and brand new work.

After Boston, I head to New York to visit museums, eat as much as I can, and try not to look too much like a first-time New Yorker. Coincidentally I’ll be there for the same week as CAT – though I’m not attending, perhaps I’ll run into some creative technology types while I am wandering the streets. If anyone knows of other events happening in NYC in the first week of June, please let me know.

Finally, I’ll fly into Minneapolis for Flashbelt. I’ve already told you how much I like this event – if you haven’t already bought a ticket, there’s still time. I’ll be speaking at Flashbelt about my work with the NYTimes APIs as well as a broad range of topics surrounding open data and visualization. I’ll also be showing some work as part of the Data Art Show at the Pink Hobo Gallery in Minneapolis – along with James Paterson and Mario Klingemann.

Hopefully I’ll get a chance to talk to some of you along the way. If you are going to be attending either event, or are in Boston, New York, or Minneapolis and would like to say hello, feel free to fire me an e-mail or send a tweet.