Data Journeys Archway

The Data Journeys Archway was a first experiment as part of the development of a larger archways project, an outcome of and follow-on from Andrew Wilson’s shared research residency with Mixed Reality Lab and Sustrans, the national active travel charity, and funded by Horizon. The original inspiration for the archways project came from a member of Sustrans’ staff, who said they thought part of the activity of the organisation was to get people to “notice their journeys”. “Noticing journeys” seemed a productive phrase, which could apply not just to travel journeys but personal journeys, personal histories and perhaps even personal health and wellbeing.

This was augmented with a focus on personal data and the role of the built environment in capturing this data, motivated by collaborating with MRL’s architect and researcher Holger Schnädelbach, whose research is currently framed by a Nottingham Research Fellowship. This fellowship investigates the Built Environment as Interface to Personal Data, focusing on the interactional feedback loops that can be created and making the path from personal data to big data legible.


When people approached the arch from either side, we projected a question onto the ground in front of the arch, for example “Who has opened a door for you and where did it lead?”. People had a chance to think about that question even if they chose not to walk through the arch. If they then decided to walk through the arch, we used a sensor to record their height, which was displayed on the strips of LEDs on the side of the arch as they passed through. An observer discreetly using a web page on a mobile phone recorded some basic facts about the person, for example male or female, wearing a hat or glasses (when applicable), along with a choice from a range of positive statements about a personal quality, for example “Always smiling” or “Steps forward boldly.”







As the person passed through the arch, their height, their personal qualities, and a piece of “wisdom” in the form of a positive quote, such as “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work. [Thomas Edison]”chosen at random from a list, were projected in front of them on the far side of the arch. This information was also posted to the Facebook page for the archway at the same time.

Partner: Andrew Wilson, Studio for Co-Operation