KC Office Block Uses Generative Data For A Dynamic Digital Clock Tower

April 7, 2021 by Dave Haynes

This is a digital clock tower feature on an office building in central Kansas City, using generative art to suggest the time and weather.

The LA creative technology shop StandardVision was commissioned by Block Real Estate to develop the new digital display at a top corner of 46 Penn Centre.

The Dynamic Weather Clock was inspired by the concept of a traditional clock tower, which has a unique way of bringing people together with a sense of time and place. With the goal of creating a generative artwork that is meditative but also informative, StandardVision developed a codified language within the artwork based on temporal, seasonal, and meteorologic patterns.

The Dynamic Weather Clock culminates as a unifying beacon for the town, serving as an ever-changing spectacle that responds to environmental conditions while also containing art and data-driven symbology that displays information relating to current and future conditions.

By fostering a sense of community and providing passersby with a dynamic public art display, the Dynamic Weather Clock represents how technology-driven conceptual artworks can enrich public space.

I’m a big fan of what StandardVision does, but not entirely sold on this, for the same reason I am not sold on a lot of data visualization video walls that often look amazing, but offer limited clues about what’s going on and why the visual is shape-shifting and changing colors.

The video embedded below suggests that while there is a time stamp that comes in and out of the LED display, viewers are supposed to pick up clues from the automated creative. Like if there are two little bubble bulges on the left and six on the right, the date is the 26th???

Same goes for subtle things like rain drops that come up when weather data says it is raining (which you kinda know if you are standing on a KC street corner looking at this, in the rain).

The video also notes that the client was specifically interested in generative data visuals, so StandardVision responded to the customer brief.

As a visual piece, it looks cool (though arguably a little small for the set-up). I’d much rather see these arguably vague visuals about the time and weather up there, than a billboard highlighting commercial space for lease, which is the core business of the client.

As a utility for time, date and weather, I’m not sure it is terribly useful. But it’s not like that’s hard information to get off your phone, smart watch or by simply looking around.

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