Emoto is a unique data art project that captured and visualized the excitement around the London 2012 Olympic and Paralympic Games. The project captured the pulse of the Games and provided a unique ‘peoples’ perspective on events as they happened.

As stories unfolded, emoto was processing global Twitter data, around 12.5 million Twitter messages, collected in real-time and analysed  for content and emotional tone, this was then fed back to the viewer providing greater insight into the ups and downs of London 2012 as they happened. The dynamic nature of evolving news stories within the Olympic Games could be followed via emoto providing an alternative perspective to that broadcast by mainstream media.

The emoto real-time visualization was developed to show the big picture, the world from above, as well as the intimate and personal. In topics view, the viewer could see the big picture overview, which event, athlete or topic was generating the most attention in that moment, and the mix of positive and negative emotions for each. The anecdotal and ephemeral was seen in the message view stream, and an overview on each day showed an even bigger picture, the trends and patterns.

emoto in Preston as part of WePlay

Once the Olympics had finished, all of the accumulated data was gathered and transformed into an interactive data sculpture. Millions of tweets with different emotional sentiment values representing the story of the Games were milled into 17 objects laid side by side, each representing one day of the Games. The core of the install­a­tion was the phys­ical data sculp­ture with 17 objects, each repres­enting all Tweets collected during one day of the Olympics.

The surface of the data sculpture represented the highs and lows of the emotional response to London 2012. Viewers of the sculpture are able interact with and query the data peaks and the lows of the Games, and investigate for themselves what stories were trending at a specific time on a particular day through an inter­active control.

Another element in the install­a­tion was the 9.50 meter long Sentigraph  giving a high-level over­view over London2012 as seen by emoto.

This installation took place in the PAD Gallery in Preston 7 -9 September 2012 as part of WePlay.


Emoto was an example of how artists responded to and made sense of London 2012.  This project came directly out of the reaction to the games and the emotional response through tweets. Since the games the exhibition has been shown at the Beijing Design Fair.

emoto online and physical installation

Created by Moritz Stefaner, Drew Hemment, Studio NAND. A FutureEverything project for the Cultural Olympiad programme and London 2012 Festival. Software provided by Lexalytics, funded by Arts Council England and WE PLAY/Legacy Trust UK

About emoto creators

Moritz Stefaner works as a “truth and beauty operator” on the crossroads of data visualization, information aesthetics and user interface design. With a background in Cognitive Science (B.Sc. with distinction, University of Osnabrueck) and Interface Design (M.A., University of Applied Sciences Potsdam), his work beautifully balances analytical and aesthetic aspects in mapping abstract and complex phenomena. He is part of the advisory boards for the Places and Spaces Exhibit and the Digital Communities category at Prix Ars Electronica, and serves as a reviewing expert for the Future and Emerging Technologies programme of the European Commission.

Dr. Drew Hemment, FutureEverything founder and CEO, is an artist, curator and researcher based in Manchester. His work has been been recognised by awards from the arts, technology and business sectors, including Lever Prize 2010 (Winner) and Prix Ars Electronica 2008 (Honorary Mention), and covered by New York Times, BBC and NBC. Drew is also Associate Director of ImaginationLancaster at Lancaster University.

Studio NAND are Stephan Thiel, Steffen Feidler and Jonas Loh. Studio NAND are a multi-disciplinary design practice in the heart of Berlin, practising and researching at the intersection of design, science and techno­logy. The Studio creates products, objects, interactive environments, applications and visualisations. Additionally, the team tries to foster innovation and exchange in these fields through workshops, lectures and their Open Source platform Creative Coding.





Photos: Studio NAND