Commissioned by the Center for Strategic and International Studies for their new headquarters in Washington, Sosolimited partnered with Hypersonic Engineering & Design, Plebian Design, and Chris Parlato to design, program, and fabricate one-of-a-kind chandelier. 425 hanging pendants form a map of the world when viewed from below. This map becomes a low-res display for illustrating global data such as GDP growth rate, renewable water resources, and energy consumption.
Each data set is paired with a lighting animation. In addition, CSIS can highlight regions of the map that correspond with international developments or events within the building. The entire system is automated, linking to web-based data to dynamically build animations. By parsing CSIS website, the team can identify countries in the news and highlight them on the chandelier.
The system currently uses UN Data GDP growth rate, USEIA Total Energy Consumption per capita and Aquastat Total Renewable Water Resources per capita. Each of these data sets updates on an annual or quarterly basis. The team wrote a series of python scripts that process the data and colour an SVG map of world to match a normalized value for each set. An openFrameworks app loads these maps and uses the data to drive a series of animations. Each animation is unique to the data set and attempts to resemble the underlying data: water feels like rain drops, energy pulses, and GDP grows. There are also visual modes that let researches at CSIS select specific regions of the world to highlight – either to show conflict, or to show progress — John Rothenberg of SoSo Limited explains to CAN. Finally, the oF app outputs DMX to a series of DMX dimmer boards that control the light fixtures. Each pendant lights contains an MR-11 LED bulb that becomes a pixel in the display.
Think Tank Watch formerly awards the prize of fanciest chandelier at a think tank to CSIS.
Click here to view pictures and a video of the chandelier.
Several CSIS scholars have noted that the chandelier has left out Japan...
CSIS was recently ranked as the best think tank in the world for security and international affairs by the University of Pennsylvania annual think tank rankings. It was also ranked as the 5th best think tank in the world.