Bio Mapping - Christian Nold

Crowd Compiler

Christian Nold
2004 - 05

Computer software which produces an image of the temporal crowd.

Ever since the very first photograph of a crowd was taken in 1848, these images have been controversial for what they purported to show and what they did not show.
Even today, most representations of the crowd aim to rationalise and quantify the crowd rather than show its curious dynamics of both density and fluidity. The Crowd Compiler software tries to present the ‘crowd in time’ rather than a static snapshot.

A fixed camera takes photographs at regular intervals which are then sequentially processed by the software.
Using a simple algorithm all the visual changes between the frames are composited and made simultaneously visible.
The resulting images widen our senses to this normally invisible ‘temporal crowd’ which occupies public space.

Is this simply a special effect?

No, the images carry visual data about the effect of architecture and urban design on group behaviour. Of equal importance is the fact that the images are created by a process that is legible. The political and technical logic of the representation becomes visible in the image itself rather than being hidden away.

Legibility = Visual data
+ Social Context
+ Technical Transparency

The Crowd Compiler software operates by comparing each individual pixel between the photographic frame and the back-ground image. If the colour has changed a significant amount, the new pixel is copied to the background. The process continues until all the photographs have been processed.

Download Crowd Compiler for Mac OSX 3.1MB (dmg file)

Download Crowd Compiler for PC 2.1MB (Self Extracting Executable)

Screenshot (100kb)

PDF leaflet (200kb)

Bio Mapping - Christian Nold

Kennington Common, 1848 - W. E. Kilburn, 'The Great Chartist Meeting, 10 April 1848', daguerreotype, The Royal Collection (c) 2006 HM Queen Elizabeth II

Bio Mapping - Christian Nold

Kennington Park, 2005 - photomontage created by Crowd Compiler

Bio Mapping - Christian Nold

Detail of Crowd Compiler photomontage

Bio Mapping - Christian Nold

Gallery installation shot of Crowd Compiler at the Zentrum für Kunst und Medientechnologie (2 aluminium mounted photographs, computer animation and text panel)

Christian Nold


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Last Updated 3/3/2011

It has been an enourmous long time since I last updated this! I have never been a blog person, and felt irritated by the way new media culture pushes us to be constantly visible to the world. Recently though I kept getting email from people wondering what I was up to. So today is my birthday and I have finally given in :) . So a quick update I am excited about what Rob van Kranenburg and I are calling the Internet of People - which will be a book coming out in the next few months. I am also exstatic about trying to build and map alternative currencies. Take a look at the Bijlmer Euro project. In the last year I have also been building a unique mapping software called Sensory Journeys and the Town Toolkits for which I will build a proper site. On Saturday I am off to Helsinki for the Pixeache festival where I am preseting some work but more importantly working on and island toolkit for the next year. More info soon...