Art, Deviant Cartography, Maps, Portfolio

2014 South Napa Earthquake – 3D Print

Two weeks ago on the night of August 24, 2014 I was shaken awake by the 6.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Napa, CA. It was the largest earthquake to hit the Bay Area since the 1989 World Series quake. Where I was in San Francisco wasn’t close enough to the epicenter to do much other than wake people up. But while watching the reports start coming in on Twitter it became clear that up in Napa there was quite a bit of damage. Unable to sleep, I started downloading the data to understand what the difference was between what I had felt and what it was like right in the epicenter.

Over the past couple weeks I’ve been experimenting with 3D printing the shake intensity from the Napa quake.


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Art, Data Visualization, Maps, Portfolio

A City Cut in Two by a Tornado

This is a map of Moore, Oklahoma. On May 20, 2013 an EF5 tornado struck this city of 58,000 people, killing 24 and injuring 377 others. The destruction within the direct path of the storm was near complete.


This piece focuses on the city boundary of Moore and the destruction that ripped right through the center of the town. The tornado track has been removed from the map, and the city has been split open.

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Art, Maps

Point Nemo Wood Map

The most remote spot on Earth sits in the middle of the South Pacific Ocean, over 1,600 miles from land in any direction. It is quite literally the middle of nowhere. And yet, because it’s exactly the middle of nowhere, it’s actually an incredibly remarkable somewhere. This beautifully unique spot is called Point Nemo.


This map brings focus to this distant pole of inaccessibility. Centered on Point Nemo we have a much simpler map than we’re used to. Instead of focusing on complex land features, we shift to look at the expanse of nothing. The islands closest to Point Nemo, Ducie Island, Motu Nui, and Maher Island, are marked and the 1,670 mile radius around the pole is delineated.

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Art, Maps, Portfolio

Haiti Earthquake Tree Trunk Map


This piece is a representation of the January 2010 earthquake that destroyed much of Haiti. Laser cut out of different kinds of bamboo, it shows the shake intensity data radiating out from the epicenter near Port-au-Prince.

This devastating earthquake caused massive damage and an unknown number of deaths. Estimates were anywhere from about 80,000 to 300,000 casualties. Even this many years later it’s hard to know the full impact of this event. I remember watching the news for the weeks after this earthquake as they tried to find the dead and survey the damage.

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Art, Maps

Hurricane Coasters

I’ve been creating maps of hurricanes for the last few years. My job involves writing software to assess the impact of an approaching storm, so during an active hurricane season I become a bit obsessed. When you watch these things so closely and so constantly they get burned into your memory. They almost enter your subconscious. They become inkblots on a Rosharch test. Irene, Isaac, Sandy. I started seeing hurricanes everywhere.


I decided to create something that took these shapes that I was so familiar with. These shapes that were burned into my head. These shapes had become such a constant presence in my mind I figured it was only fitting to make them a constant presence in my home as well, so I created a set of coasters.


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Art, Data Visualization, Maps

Physical Maps – My 360|intersect Presentation

I recently had theĀ privilegeĀ  of presenting at 360|intersect in Seattle. My talk explored creating physical map using various techniques like 3D printing, laser cutting, etc. This was a much more artistic exploration than a lot of my previous work, and I am incredibly proud of the pieces I produced. The full video of my presentation is embedded below. I’ll be documenting each of the projects I created in future blog posts, but for now here’s the 45-minute long presenation:

And if you just want to see an overview of the various projects before watching the video, here’s a quick preview of all the projects that I talk about in the presentation:


Art, Data Visualization, Maps

Printing Hurricanes as Gifts

We had a very busy month of August at SpatialKey as Hurricane Irene tore through the east coast. Our insurance customers were constantly watching Irene as it built up and approached land, then as it swept through parts of North Carolina, Vermont, New York, etc, and then as it died out quietly. We were writing software to visualize hurricane forecasts in real-time, as the storm was approaching, and getting immediate feedback from our customers. It was all a bit stressful, but exhilarating.

I wanted to have some kind of gift of thanks to give to our most helpful customers, who worked closely with us, helping us develop our hurricane product. To be honest, it felt like we all weathered a storm together during that hectic week in August. We brainstormed on sending out shirts, or bags, or some other standard corporate gear, but none of it really felt like “us”. So I came up with a more unique gift that I think captures our culture.

This is a 3D model of Hurricane Irene. The height of the model represents the wind speed at that location. You can see there are 3 bands of different wind speeds. The outer band represents where wind speeds hit 39 mph, the next band represents 58 mph, and the third band represents 74 mph (hurricane force winds). Then running through the middle we have the path of the eye of the storm, and the height of that track represents the exact speed at that point in time (Irene got up to 120 mph).

I created the model by taking the GIS data straight from NOAA and using that to build up the 3D model by hand. Then I sent the 3D model off to Shapeways for printing. The printed version you see in the photos is made out of alumide, which is sort of a composite aluminum material.

For our customers who were working with us while Irene passed through, we hope this will be a nice reminder of the work we did. It’s just a little paperweight to sit on your desk, but for those who were watching Irene as it developed and keeping a very close eye on the footprint of the storm, I think it’s a nice memento.

A hurricane can be a difficult concept to understand. For those affected in its path, it’s an incredibly tangible, visceral thing. But for those watching from afar (like me, sitting in California), it’s less “real”. We hear the overly-dramatic news reports and the doom-and-gloom predictions, but it’s a purely theoretical experience. Having a little paperweight of the storm on my desk doesn’t really help me understand the true impact Irene had on all those folks along the east coast, but at least I can touch it.

Art, Data Visualization

Iraq Death Dots – Visualizing Each Death in the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs

What would 108,394 deaths look like?

I’ve been combing through the Wikileaks Iraq War Logs dataset and experimenting with different visualizations. This new one shows each individual death logged in the data. A single death is drawn as a single dot. The color of the dot indicates who was killed: either a civilian, a coalition soldier, an Iraqi soldier, or an enemy combatant. These classifications are taken directly from the military records, I did not categorize the data myself in any way. The dataset documents exactly 108,394 deaths, so exactly 108,394 dots are drawn.

Coalition soldiers are white dots, Iraqi forces are gray dots, enemy forces are blue dots, and civilians are red dots. At a glance you can see the shift from the heavy blue in the early days of the war to the overwhelming red. Let that soak in for a second. Every red dot is a civilian life.

The live visualization is embedded below. Or view a larger standalone version.

This movie requires Flash Player 9.

Explore the visualization by selecting a different tab along the top (Years, Months, Incident Type, Category, Casualty Type) or by using the plus and minus buttons to zoom in and out of the visualization. I encourage you to experience the visualization in full screen (use the full-screen button on the bottom-right).

The data

This dataset uses the dataset produced by the Guardian, which filtered the full WIkileaks dataset to only include records with one or more deaths logged. It contains 52,048 records that document 108,394 deaths.

Please note that this data only contains incidents documented by Multi-National Force – Iraq and presents only a partial, incomplete record of the war. Please see this article about issues with this dataset.


This work was inspired by Kamel Makhloufi, who created some fantastic images that colored individual pixels by the type of casualty.