How the cloud can transform our cityscapes

(This article is also published in Computerworld Hong Kong on Nov 3, 2015)


Cloud computing is a model for enabling ubiquitous, convenient, on-demand access to a shared pool of configurable computing resources … and the creation of visual art.

Art? Yes, art … honestly, it’s true. If you think the cloud is just about enterprise agility and transformation, think again. Over the last year the Urban Art Cloud – a travelling art experience installation – has been engaging people and transforming cityscapes.

We have folks in Germany to thank for this this bit of inspiration, based on the belief that cities are defined by architecture and can be inspired by art. The Urban Art Cloud brings together people, buildings, a digital canvas, mapping projection of real-time digital art work, a stored digital gallery, and integrated social media and analytics.

At city festivals as well as tradeshows and events, people have been gathering around an easel with a digital screen, they work with a custom-designed Mapping Painter app and whatever they create is then displayed: live and full-size, on building facades and projection objects.

As soon as the volunteer urban artists consider their work complete, they can share on social media with one click. And that’s what they’ve been doing – big time! Their works also becomes part of a worldwide digital art gallery: The Urban Art Cloud. There are now thousands of curated pieces in the collection.

As you can see from this video, the results can be pretty amazing.

Apart from the artwork, I think the technology behind the Urban Art Cloud is pretty cool as well. It is hosted on IBM SoftLayer Cloud and was developed with Bluemix, using the same responsive HTML 5 Code functions that drive so many smartphone, tablet and desktop apps. This allows the people running Urban Art Cloud events to adjust capacity on the fly – with bandwidth or processing power added or removed – to match demand.

What this so vividly demonstrates is that with cloud-based technology we are free from constraints. We can be creative and experiment with all kinds of think without being scared of failure. After all, if you never make mistakes you can never really learn.

Thus far Urban Art Cloud events have been held in Europe and North America but were keen to find out if people in Asia would like to share the experience. Here in Hong Kong we are not short of potential urban canvases to use and I for one can easily imagine an exciting event that brings more life and light to our city.

What do you think? Where do you see such an event being held? What Landmark or Icon could we light up? Would you like to be involved?

We’d love to hear from you.

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