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The Nobel Week Lights: see visualisations of Stockholm’s Internet traffic

5-13 December

Light installation on facade on Kungsgatan/Sveavägen
Light installation on facade on Kungsgatan/Sveavägen
Published Dec 10, 2020

We have spoken to Professor Benoit Baudry, who manages the KTH software research centre CASTOR, about its involvement in a light installation that visualises the massive internet activity coming in and out of Stockholm in real time installations across the city centre.

Tell us about The Nobel Week Lights and the installation you are part of!

”The Nobel Week Lights is a festival about light and art, which will take place during the Nobel week, from 5 to 13 December. The festival will feature different outdoor art installations, in the centre of Stockholm. There will be some mappings on iconic buildings, such as Stadshuset and Hötorgshuset, as well as unique light fixture installations in Sergels Torg, Strömparterren or Kungsträdgården. Our installation, RFC:675:08, will be displayed on the billboard at the intersection of Kungsgatan and Sveavägen, every hour, exactly on the hour.”

What will happen on the LED screens on Kungsgatan?

”We will see visual representations of the Internet traffic that comes in and out of Stockholm. Stockholm is a very digital city that relies on massive Internet traffic. Yet, this Internet activity is completely invisible. The idea of our installation is to unveil this massive stream of digital connections between Stockholm and the world. Every hour, we will display the Internet traffic that occurs at that time, where it comes from, how big it is or how fast it goes. The installation mixes different forms of visualisations to render this extraordinary, invisible phenomenon. The installation will run for eight minutes every hour and every projection will be unique, based on the traffic that Stockholm and the world trigger at that time.”

What is CASTOR’s role in this?

”CASTOR is a centre for software technology research. Our scientific activity aims consolidating the reliability of software, an essential part of a safe digital infrastructure. This research has an impact on the daily activities of digital citizens. Yet, the intangible nature of our object of study, software, makes it challenging to outreach to the citizens and engage in a conversation about our scientific discoveries. The installation on the LED screen aims at revealing the amplitude and scale of our research object, software, through live visuals.”

How do you propose to see the installation in a COVID- safe way?

”There will be a total of 171 presentations, 8 minutes each, from 5 to 13 December. Many of them will take place outside of rush hours. Another suggestion is to watch the performance from the bridge on Malmskillnadsgatan, which spans Kungsgatan. There is a great perspective on the LED screen and it is quieter than the crossroads around Sveavägen.”