Cabspotting (2005)

By looking at the aggregate cab data from San Francisco, Cabspotting reveals the Bay Area’s economic, social, and cultural patterns. The work is meant to inspire viewers with an awareness of the vast simultaneous activities of their fellow human beings. Like You Are Here (2004), the piece reveals the possibilities of benevolent and inspiring uses of surveillance technologies.

The core “engine” of Cabspotting is an online system that anonymously tracks and records movements of Yellow Cab vehicles throughout the Bay Area. The Cab Tracker builds an alternate "map" of the bay area based solely on cabs movements, and generates a series of time lapse videos.

Cabspotting is also an open source framework to use the activity of commercial cabs as a starting point to explore the economic, social, political and cultural issues suggested by cab traces. Where do cabs go the most? Where do they never turn up? Commissioned and volunteer Cab Projects are vehicles for artists, writers, or researchers to explore these questions.

Exhibition History

The Exploratorium, San Francisco, 2006 (online)
International Symposium on Electronic Art / Zero One Festival. San Jose, California. August, 2006
Museum of Modern Art, New York, 2008 (acquired for permanent collection)  

Full Credits

A project of the San Francisco Exploratorium's Invisible Dynamics initiative
Produced by Peter Richards and Susan Schwartzenberg
Directed by Scott Snibbe with the creative consultation of Amy Balkin
Concept developed in collaboration with all team members
Designed and developed by Stamen Design:
Eric Rodenbeck, director and client-side design Michal Migurski, server-side programming Tomas Apodaca, client-side design and programming Shawn Allen, movie composition and programming
Supported by a grant from the National Endowment for the Artsadditional support provided by San Francisco Grants for the Arts Data generously provided by Yellow Cab of San Francisco