Rather than visualizing it after the fact, the installation makes the data visualization process as alive as the process it is visualizing

A section of wood, displaying the growth rings of the tree it came from, is an image that itself helps our understanding of time and change without the need for external manipulation.
If you could see the creation of this image in real-time instead of once the process has stopped, it would force you to rethink how you perceive the little changes that constantly occur around you, and your perception of the scale of time.

No second chances

Constantly analyzing its environment, the installation uses the real-time data (audience’s movements around it) to produce a graphic that takes as long to complete as the installation is on display. Like a tree leaning in the direction of the Sun, the rings it creates expand tracking the flow of visitors on the gallery, like a visual rhythm that reflects the changes in its immediate environment over time.

Although you could, it would take a great deal of patience to manipulate the graphic (in contrast with interactive installations) due to the long data sample, you would need to spend a day running around it just to make that ring slightly darker. In the same manner, no numerical data is stored, so there is no option to tweak the algorithm and plot it again for a different aesthetic.
The graphic is the only trace left of what happened there, more than a visualization of data it becomes the data itself.

The machine

The software translates the movement of the audience (measured by PIR sensors) into specific paths of a laser, which slowly burns concentric rings on the surface of a piece of wood.
Taking as a reference the form of the previous ring, the separation of the new ring and the variation of its perimeter will be directly linked to the amount of people in the room and their movements, which also affect the thickness and depth of the ring group generated every day (defined by the subtle blank space left when nobody is around).

Time perception

The graph develops slowly over time, moving away from the immediacy of data visualization, and setting you up in a completely different clock when visiting the show. Not only the board will take a month or two (as long as the show lasts) to be filled, each ring can take several minutes to be burnt.

The graphics created by the installation are subjective but legible images of what happened in its vicinity, merging the influence of your presence at the time of your visit (what you see burning while you’re there) with the vision of the rings generated prior to your arrival (arising from the actions of those who visited the exhibition before you).

Second by second, day after day, the installation continues the analysis of the world around it, creating its unstoppable, unalterable interpretation.


Whatever happened, Happened might have a new version coming for its 10th anniversary…

Project release

  • 2010

Commissioned by

  • Diputación de Córdoba

Thanks to

  • Vitaly Mankevich
  • Diego Mellado
  • María José Martinéz