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Lighting up Gulf Tower with the Instagram API

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Hosted By
Justin R.


Join us as we bring you a special presentation on how David Newbury lit up the Pittsburgh skyline with sentiment analysis followed by a tour of an exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art.

About the Presentation

As part of the buildup for the Antoine Catala: Distant Feel exhibition, the Carnegie Museum of Art turned the Gulf Tower beacon into a mood ring for Pittsburgh. For three nights the tower displayed the average mood of the city as determined by Pittsburgh's Instagram activity. Tens of thousands of photos were analyzed and turned into an interactive light show visible throughout the city.

As the lead developer on the project, David helped take the Museum's idea and turn it into reality. He'll discuss the technology and process behind the Gulf Tower project and tell behind-the-scenes stories. He'll also talk about lessons learned and mistakes made while discovering how to build projects that take technology out of the computer and into the real world.

About the Exhibition

Antoine Catala: Distant Feel, on view Feb. 14-May 18 at Carnegie Museum of Art, is the first solo US museum exhibition of the New York–based French artist. Distant Feel presents a new body of work in sculpture, photography, and video that addresses the way that images provoke emotion, especially as they travel virtual and physical distances via the internet.

Antoine Catala’s work takes an interest in the myriad ways we express feelings, through the very technology that increasingly mediates our daily lives. Catala is developing a new approach to the sentiment of empathy, conceived in collaboration with the New York advertising agency Droga5. This new form of empathy is embodied in both a symbol and the catch phrase “distant feel,” both of which will be employed in the exhibition and online.

As part of a social media experiment connected to the opening of Distant Feel, CMOA is using Pittsburgh’s Gulf Tower beacon as a giant mood ring, reflecting responses to the city’s shared Instagram images. We’re analyzing the region's Instagram commentary using sentiment analysis tools and determining whether it is more positive or negative in nature. Using two competing colors, green and red, CMOA is displaying the current levels of positivity and negativity in real-time, as sentiment changes. Users are invited to watch the tower’s beacon or see the graphic on the project’s landing page for a visual representation of the analysis, a timeline of Pittsburgh Instagram images, and more information about Catala's Distant Feel.

More information about the project and the exhibition at

About the Presenter

David Newbury is a interactive developer with years of practice in hardware/software experiences. He's collaborated on interactive projects with Iontank, Deeplocal, MAYA Design, and many other companies across the world. He's also taught workshops on interactive development at Carnegie Mellon and the University of Illinois, Chicago. Recently, he's been working with the Carnegie on this and other projects as the museum explores new ways to use technology to continue the mission it's been pursuing since 1895.

Photo used with permission, copyright 2015 Dave DiCello.

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