Next North Interactive

Winter 2011

Project was exhibited as part of the Next North Exhibition

Next North is a research-creation project centered on examining the Canada’s North through a variety of lenses including ecology, transportation, resources, culture, and settlement. The project was carried out as a collaboration between InfraNet Lab and Lateral Office. The Next North exhibition, a culmination of this phase of research, merges documentation and projection (Image 1). Specific design propositions are complemented with a range of artifacts, such as maps, timelines, and installations to help contextualize these new visions of the North for the exhibition’s visitors.

A subcomponent of this larger project, The Interactive Data Project (IDP) was an interactive, web-based application designed to organize and share the research gathered during the Next North project. The goal of the IDP was to design a platform that could, on the one hand, support real-time sharing of research between a geographically dispersed team and, on the other hand, support the sharing of this work with the general public at the Next North exhibition.

At the core of the IDP lies an online database of research collected over the course of the Next North project. While geographically dispersed research groups were focusing on unique themes, such as housing and transportation, overlaps between findings and materials were inevitable. A centralized, searchable archive supported a collective effort in amassing research material while simultaneously minimizing duplication of effort. During the exhibition, the IDP was presented as two complementary components, the interactive timeline and the research wall, each working to contextualize, for exhibition visitors, the formation of design strategies for the various presented architectural interventions (Image 2). The research wall was populated with data cards, each capturing existing spatial conditions characterizing the Canadian North. The cards were organized by project themes identified by colour. The research wall emphasized a curated, asynchronous view of the research work.

Complementing this fixed representation, the interactive timeline component emphasized a user-driven, synchronous, experience of the body of research. Streaming live content from the continually evolving online database throughout the show’s duration, the timeline was updated in real-time to capture the current state of the research project. Users were able to filter and sort research data according to theme and date. The ability to isolate related elements encouraged visitors to engage in each of the project themes more directly, to unpack how each contributes to our overall understanding of the North.

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