Making Sense of Occupy: Visualizing Citizen Media & Data in New York City

strelka courtyard
english (translated to russian)

Nitin Sawhney and Christo de Klerk
The New School


How do we make sense of large-scale and distributed socio-political movements like Occupy Wall Street (OWS) that take place both in urban public spaces through protests and sit-ins, and in virtual spaces using citizen media, blogs, twitter, and live streaming video? What is the role of participatory media, citizen data, and collaborative modes of inquiry in shaping shared understanding and fostering civic action?

OccupyData NYC emerged from collaborative hackathons held among artists, activists and researchers at the New School in conjunction with other cities across the U.S. to visualize the unprecedented amounts of media and data generated during the movement. We will show some of the most compelling outcomes including temporal visualizations of media narratives, participatory data gathering in public spaces, and visualizing police actions across the city. We will also discuss #searchunderoccupy, a collaborative exhibition showcasing a “living archive” of audio/video, digital media and text-based work, including installations and performances inspired by OWS.

These participatory projects in themselves reflect the ethos and complexity of the Occupy Movement; they reveal new forms of representation, urban tactics and creative online activism through art, technology, media and design.


Nitin Sawhney, Ph.D. is Assistant Professor of Media Studies at the New School for Public Engagement. His research, teaching and creative practice engages the critical role of technology, artistic interventions and DIY cultures among communities in contested spaces.

Christo de Klerk is a graduate student in the Media Studies program at the New School. His most recent projects include the interfacing of open data on privately-owned public spaces, noise complaints, and graffiti removal in New York City.