Imaginary Cities — NYC (11062471656)

v1.0 by: Michael Takeo Magruder, 2019

A real-time virtual 'city' exclusively generated from an early urban map of New York City.

Installation Documentation:

About the Artwork:

Imaginary Cities — NYC (11062471656) is a real-time virtual 'city' exclusively created from an early urban map of New York City found in the British Library's One Million Images from Scanned Books collection on Flickr Commons. The 3D environment is algorithmically rendered anew each day from a 2D 'map' that is being constantly regenerated by the project's online server application. The synthetic world shifts according to a hyperreal day/night cycle and offers two primary viewpoints. The first is a randomly animated vista of the city's skyline, whilst the second is a floating street-view perspective that is experienced through an Oculus VR headset. An atmospheric soundscape (also generated in real time) completes the experience.

Source Map:

'Plan of the City of New York, 1766—67' surveyed by Lt B Ratzer
in HB Dawson, New York City during the American Revolution… New York, 1861. 9603.f.9

Digital Media Documentation:

In Collaboration with:

Drew Baker [ 3D visualisation & programming ] . David Steele [ server architecture & programming ]

With Thanks to:

Mahendra Mahey [ BL Labs: project research & development ] . Martin McGrath [ exhibition design ] . Geraldine Kenny [ BL: exhibition production ] . Emma Puente [ media production ]

Supported by:

Imaginary Cities — NYC (11062471656) 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:

Modular VR installation using: two high-specification computer systems capable of real-time high definition 3D rendering (Unity3D) with live Internet connections; Oculus Rift virtual reality headset (CV1 or S) and single-channel high definition video projection system; and stereo audio system (Flash).

Online Resources:


© TAKEO 2019