Night Lights

  • 15 x 20 inches
  • ink on paper
  • BFK Rives
  • XY Mechanical Plotter
  • March 12, 2011

Night Lights is a visualization using information collected by NOAA Satellite and Information Service. The data was reinterpreted and drawn with black Bic Cristal pen via XY mechanical pen plotter, showing the blackout that occurred in Japan after the tsunami and earthquake that hit in March 2011.

On March 12, 2011 the U.S. Defense Meteorological Satellite (DMSP) passed over Japan and was able to detect the nighttime lights from the region. That data is shown here in comparison to the average nighttime lights of Japan taken from several DMSP satellite passes during 2010. Much lower light levels can be seen in many areas of Japan. Sendai, near the 9.0 earthquake epicenter and also the area hardest hit by the tsunami, is almost completely blacked out (this is represented in the lower portion of the print).

The drawing features Galvan, a one-stroke typeface designed explicitly for the plotter and recognized by AIGA in 2011.

The work was first shown at the 2011 VisWeek Art Show, a curated exhibition of work from renowned artists and artist-scientist teams, organized by Daniel F. Keefe and Bruce Campbell. The exhibition was accompanied by a featured display of Maxwell Roberts’ creative information design and mapmaking spanning over 10 years.

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