Artist Creates Work Using Digital Map Collection of New York Public Library

Artist Creates Work Using Digital Map Collection of New York Public Library

Electric Objects x Labs will sponsor artist in residence to explore creative potential of historical data

Simone Spilka
  • 19 august 2014

Electric Objects brings visual objects from the Internet into our homes, a project that received overwhelming support and enthusiasm during a month long Kickstarter campaign. The unique platform displays virtually anything from a web browser onto a minimal screen that can be hung on walls. After raising $787, 612 of its $25,000 campaign goal, Electric Objects created the hardware which brings digital materials – from static images to GIFS to Java-script based websites – to public spaces.

The company has announced its first major partnership with New York Public Library Labs for their Net Artist in Residence Program, a creative experiment to explore the possibilities of the library’s expansive online collection. The Labs team of design and technology experts imagine novel ways to showcase the library’s historical collections of public domain maps and data in an interactive experience.

NYPL Digital Map Collection

Together with Electric Objects, Labs will sponsor one artist to make use of the growing collection of materials from New York Public Library’s Lionel Pincus and Princess Firyal Map Division. The project will engage the public with the new type of computer made for art that allows people to shift wall art to reflect their current moods and emotions.

The library collection includes over 20,000 geographic documents and 19th century New York City data such as addresses, building footprints, maps, and books that have provided a rich foundation of the nation’s history. Over the course of its lifetime, the collection has inspired architects, writers, geographers and creatives who filter and interpret the database of information through various artistic perspectives. The selected artist will shine light on the map division through their own imaginative creation.


The Artist in Residence will receive access to librarians, an EO developer kit, a personal work space at the library, among other sources to foster creative expression. Artists will also collaborate with the Electric Objects team for project implementation, conversely allowing Electric Objects to iterate the development process based on outsider opinion and feedback.

Final displays will be available for viewing on the Electric Objects screens, as the residency encourages artists to consider and explore the new medium. However, completed artwork will also be online.

Artists can apply for the opportunity to explore Williamsburg and Brooklyn in the 1850s with Electric Objects and Labs.

Artist in Residence Program

Electric Objects // Kickstarter

NYPL Labs // Map Division


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