Art, Maps, Portfolio

Camp Fire Progression

Iron, bronze, 2022

This iron and bronze sculpture maps the movement of the Camp Fire that destroyed the town of Paradise, California in November 2018. It’s a map of the fire perimeter, with the majority of the sculpture in rusted iron. The boundary of the town of Paradise is in polished bronze inlaid into the larger sculpture.

The height of the sculpture represents the time at which that area burned. The lowest parts represent where the fire started. You can trace the movement of the fire by following the sculpture from the low areas to the higher areas. The Camp Fire started near the middle of the fire footprint, just east of the town of Paradise, CA.

The Impact of the Camp Fire

The Camp Fire began November 8, 2018 and was fully contained on November 25, 2018. 85 people lost their lives. It destroyed over 18,000 structures, many of them in the town of Paradise, CA. This sculpture highlights the town of Paradise, however, it’s important to note that other towns, such as Concow, Magalia, and Butte Creek Canyon were also largely destroyed. It is the deadliest and most destructive wildfire in California’s history.

The Data

The source data was downloaded from NASA FIRMS (Fire Information for Resource Management System). The dataset consists of points with timestamps indicating when burn activity was detected.

You can watch an animation of the fire progression to get a sense of how the fire spread and what the sculpture represents:

Or here’s another animated map of the same data, color coding the burned areas by day:

The Process

I wrote code that converted that raw point data into a 3D model. That model was 3D printed, then I made a mold of the printed sculpture and cast it to wax. Then I used the lost wax casting method to create the iron sculpture and the separate bronze section. Metal casting was done at the Crucible in Oakland, CA.

Art, Maps, Portfolio

Walled NYC

Concrete, plywood, enamel, and paint, 2017 

Much of the rhetoric around immigration to the U.S. in recent years has centered on the Trump administration’s proposal to build a wall along the southern border. The effects of this debate on immigrant cities that are far from such physical borders is less visible, but in New York City, whose airports offer the first port of entry for many immigrants, the impacts of immigration policy are no less meaningful. In this sculpture, data artist Doug McCune physicalizes the barriers that many would-be immigrants face: a combination of restrictive policies, anti-immigrant sentiment, and economic realities.  

The work shows a concrete wall surrounding New York City. The height of each section is proportional to the number of immigrants living in New York who originally came from the various directions on the globe. The routes were mapped as an airplane would fly from each region of New York City to the country of origin. McCune determined the height by calculating the number of immigrants “crossing” each section of the city border. This piece challenges us to ask: what would New York be without immigrants? How close will we get to finding out?  

Source: The map uses data on country of origin for all foreign-born residents from the 2017 American Community Survey five-year estimates. 

This work was commissioned for the You Are Here NYC exhibit at the Pratt Manhattan Gallery, Sep – Nov, 2017.

Art, Maps, Portfolio

HayWired Shake Map

Bronze sculpture of a hypothetical magnitude 7 earthquake along the Hayward fault in the Bay Area. The data for this sculpture is from the USGS’s HayWired Scenario, which predicts what a large earthquake might do to the Bay Area.

The height of the sculpture represents the shake intensity at that point, reminding us how fragile our stability really is.

Art, Maps, Portfolio

San Francisco Housing Prices – Large Format

Large version of my sculpture of San Francisco housing prices.

This data sculpture depicts a map of housing prices in San Francisco. It’s a map of the city, torn at the seams. The height of each area represents the average price per square foot for recent home sales. Where neighboring areas are close in value they are connected, but if neighboring areas are too far from each other I allow them to split, tearing the city along its most severe economic divides. Data from 2016.

For more details see this writeup.

The large concrete base serves as a legend. The base is in chunks, with each chunk representing $100 per square foot. That allows you to see that the lowest-priced neighborhoods (data from 2016) start at about $500 per square foot.

Art, Maps, Portfolio

Weaponized Counties – 2016 US Election Sculpture

This pair of sculptures divides US counties into two sets: those in which Donald Trump won a majority of the 2016 US presidential election votes and those in which Hillary Clinton won a majority. Clinton assembled powerful urban centers to build her political base, with solid margins in most dense cities. Donald Trump, on the other hand, amassed a vast rural expanse of the less populated counties in the country. These counties were weaponized in the fight for the presidency, and this narrative of urban vs rural is visualized here in sharp, violent imagery, meant to evoke futuristic weapons turned on each other.

The counties are represented as their geographic shapes, with a thickness representing the number of votes the majority candidate received in each county. Counties are arranged along an x-axis from left to right, symbolizing the percentage of the county that voted for the left (Clinton) vs the right (Trump). The counties are rotated at random, melding with one another into a cutting, dangerous form. By comparing this visualization technique across both candidates we can see a stark difference in the makeup of the electorate.

Clinton Majority Counties

Trump Majority Counties

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Art, Maps, Portfolio

Bridged Counties – 2016 US Election Sculpture

This sculpture takes the US counties and plots them left to right based on how polarized the votes were for one candidate or another in the 2016 US presidential election. Clinton landslide counties to the left, Trump landslide counties to the right. Then the counties are stacked one on the other to build up each candidate’s most polarized base. The height of each county is the # of votes for the candidate that won the majority of the county. These are the safe divided pillars on which each candidate builds their campaign. The two pillars meet in the middle, where the counties had an approximately equal split between the two parties.

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Art, Maps, Portfolio

Sculpture of Housing Prices Ripping San Francisco Apart

This data sculpture depicts a map of housing prices in San Francisco. It’s a map of the city, torn at the seams. The height of each area represents the average price per square foot for recent home sales. Where neighboring areas are close in value they are connected, but if neighboring areas are too far from each other I allow them to split, tearing the city along its most severe economic divides.

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Academic Publishing

Unofficial SAGE/Sci-Hub Top Pirated Journals

The following articles are the most downloaded SAGE Publications articles from Sci-Hub for the period of Sep 2015 – Feb 2016. The download numbers are pulled from the Sci-Hub usage stats (for background read the Science article). Out of a total of about 28 million downloads, less than 2% of those, or approximately 378k, were for articles published by SAGE. Included in that subset were 171k unique articles. This is an attempt to use the pirated download stats as a method of curation.

As quick background and disclaimer: I am a minority shareholder in SAGE Publications and serve on the SAGE board of directors. SAGE is a family business founded by my grandparents. This analysis and these links to Sci-Hub are purely out of personal interest and do not reflect any SAGE position or opinion. Personally I hope we use the debate about piracy, paywalls, open access, and the future of publishing to approach our business(model) with an open mind. I have a deep respect for our customers and partners, particularly scholarly societies, who have a lot at risk as the world of intellectual property evolves. The only thing I’m sure of is that burying our head in the sand and hoping piracy simply goes away isn’t where I want to place my bet.

And for those who only see the world in black and white (from either side of the debate), I urge you to acknowledge that the issues swirling around scholarly publishing are much more complex than a simplistic “us vs them” view of the world. I encourage everyone to truly debate these issues without reaching straight for the pitchforks.

Without further ado, here are the 10 most pirated articles from the 10 most pirated disciplines in which SAGE publishes:

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Art, Maps, Presentations

Desperately Trying to Remove the Air Quotes Around the Word “Artist”

On April 25 I had the honor of presenting at 360|intersect. My talk was titled Desperately Trying to Remove the Air Quotes Around the Word “Artist”. I present artwork I’ve created over the past year, and reflect on my struggle to identify as an artist.

The video recording of my talk is below, it’s about 45 minutes long.

Continue reading for slides and transcript

Art, Deviant Cartography, Maps, Portfolio

Discard the Poor

Census tracts are ranked by median family income and the poorest areas are cut out of the city and discarded. San Francisco is quickly becoming one of the most expensive cities in the world, but real world gentrification will take decades to fully push out all the poor people. With this map we do so in a single fell swoop.

Laser cut wood