Imaginary Cities — Chicago (11107522893)

v1.0 by: Michael Takeo Magruder, 2019

A physical UV-light reactive data sculpture produced from an urban street map of 1870s Chicago.

Installation Documentation:

About the Artwork:

Imaginary Cities — Chicago (11107522893) is a physical data sculpture that has been made through combining modern digital fabrication processes and traditional woodworking techniques. The project's underlying server application has generated the raw image material for the composition from an urban street map of 1870s Chicago that is included in the British Library's One Million Images from Scanned Books collection on Flickr Commons. The source data from the server has been translated to an intricate vector pattern. This design has been laser-engraved into a set of twenty solid pieces of hand finished sapele hardwood that were then inlaid with a fluorescent UV light-reactive pigment.

Source Map:

'Map of Chicago' engraved by R Blanchard
in E Chamberlin, Chicago and its Suburbs. Chicago, 1874. 10411.dd.36

Digital Media Documentation:

In Collaboration with:

David Steele [ server architecture & programming ]

With Thanks to:

Mahendra Mahey [ BL Labs: project research & development ] . Martin McGrath [ exhibition design ] . Geraldine Kenny [ BL: exhibition production ] . FabLab Coventry [ laser engraving services ]

Supported by:

Imaginary Cities — Chicago (11107522893) was commissioned and produced by the British Library for its St Pancras, London site (5 April - 1 September 2019). The project was generously supported by British Library Labs (research and development) with funds from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation and the Eccles Centre for American Studies (exhibition and publication) at the British Library.

Artwork Requirements:

Physical installation comprised of: 20 Laser-engraved sapele hardwood pieces with UV light-reactive inlay, standard and UV lighting, 1530×1530×10mm (total size).

Online Resources:


© TAKEO 2019