Individual Work
Gateway to the World

Gateway to the World (2014), is a work that takes the name of one of the largest ports in the world in Hamburg (Germany), and plays with the visual representation of maritime circulation processes. It elaborates a metaphor about the circulation of information on the Internet: "he vast and busy port serves here as a metaphor for the immensity of the Internet, its flow of information, its quality of openness, and its ability to connect through the World Wide Web" (Mencia, 2016).

This work, which has been expanding its radius of action with different subsequent versions, including ports from all over the world such as Barcelona, Bergen, Buenos Aires or Ireland among others, is a data visualization that uses open data of the ships’s port routes that draw on the map, like text trails, information extracted from the Wikipedia pages related to their own names. This text or trail, trace of navigation, is produced by a generative algorithm responsible for extracting textual information from the web and transforming it into a visual flow that represents the navigation of ships on the map. The routes that draw the textual trace are not only representations of physical routes, located in a territory, they are also symbolic and poetic routes, since reading as a transitive act brings us closer to the movement towards the other. Thus, two types of spaces are superimposed and intertwined, the symbolic and the geographical, but also the visual and the textual. Mencía explores the intersection between languages that characterizes his work and that makes his work an exploration of intersemiotic processes, as well as a natural flow between languages.

Mencía, María. (2016) “Gateway to the World : Data Visualization Poetics”, en Gramma: Journal of Theory and Criticism, Vol. 23, No0, (pp. 145-157).

Author statement: 
GttW is an exploration of data visualisation poetics by using open data from the maritime database to visualise the routes of the vessels arriving to and from the Port of Hamburg. As the vessels move they act as writing tools to reveal a string of text creating calligramatic forms of information pulled from Wikipedia entries about the name of the vessels. The information gathered from these entries generates a remix of texts going from presenting factual information about vessels (containers, cargo ships, tankers, high speed crafts) to describing their names connecting them to characters in literary works, plays and mythological stories.