Surface Tension Data Visualization

November 16, 2020

Surface Tension is a visualization which runs in a web browser and maps streamflow data from the United States Geological Survey (USGS) in real time across the US. Water supports life but can also drown and destroy. People are mostly water, but the melting ice caps threaten our very existence. Harnessing this elemental force requires a balancing act and this artwork is a reflection on humanity’s fraught relationship with freshwater.

Caitlin Foley and Misha Rabinovich created Surface Tension during an Immersive Scholar Residency at NC State, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, which is focused on “the creation and sharing of digital scholarship in large-scale and immersive visualization environments.” They were psyched to create open source code and content for this project while working with publicly accessible (FAIR) data.