This Week, the Gulf Tower Will Reflect Pittsburgh's Digital Mood

Feb 9, 2015

 

The Gulf Tower during the day. At night, the top levels light up in various colors.
Credit Wikipedia

Mood rings were a popular fad in the 1970’s. Flash forward and the concept of gaging our mood via a color is being applied to the Gulf Tower downtown.

An upcoming exhibit at the Carnegie Museum of Art will use the Gulf Tower Beacon to reflect the city’s mood.

We talk with Divya Rao Heffley, program manager for the Hillman Photography Initiative and Brad Stephenson, director of marketing for the Carnegie Museum of Art.

Traditionally, the color of a mood ring was said to change determining your mood at a given time.

In the past, the Gulf Tower beacon has displayed weather prediction lighting. Each tier signified with temperature or humidity levels. This week, the beacon will tell the people of Pittsburgh the mood of the city with two colors, red as negative and green as positive.

Stephenson simplifies the new project for the Gulf Tower:

“We're taking all of the Instagram images being posted in Pittsburgh and we are using these sentiment analysis tools to measure the attitude of the commentary on the Instagram photos. Then we are taking those and applying a score that will then say more green is positive and more red is negative. We are taking two sides of the tower and applying the green and two sides and applying the red so essentially its a bar chart that shows Pittsburgh commentary on Instagram more positive or more negative in real time at any given moment.”

The idea of the beacon is a lead up to an art show this Saturday, February 14, at the Carnegie Museum of Art called Antoine Catala: Distant Feel.

Heffley explains how the exhibition got its name:

“It is called Distant Feel because he is essentially exploring the way the image and emotion relate to each other in a world of new technology where almost all the images we see are essentially mediated by technology.”

Compared to ten years ago, we see so many more images everyday although it is not only quantity but the way we are seeing these images, says Heffley. The exhibition will show how technology changes the way we connect with and experience images.