Surreal thing: Artist hacks the DOT’s stoplight cams to produce live kaleidoscopic feeds of NYC traffic

If you’re looking for a mesmerizing way to kill time, James Bridle’s web project, Rorscham NYC, is your ticket to ride

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Screenshot of Rorscham NYC

Screenshot of Rorscham NYC Photograh: courtesy rorschmap.com


We all know that traffic, not to mention driving, is a nightmare in New York, what with alternate-side parking and drug-crazed cabdrivers, to name just two perils. But of course, that’s the case only when you’re stuck in traffic, or trying to negotiate a busy intersection on foot. When seen from on high, the parade of cars and buses can seem positively magisterial, even soothing; that might be the reason the High Line includes those wooden stadium seats facing a large picture window overlooking Tenth Avenue at 17th Street.
 
Artist and technologist James Bridle may have something similar in mind with his online project Rorscham NYC. Basically, he’s hacked into the Department of Transportation's system of webcams monitoring traffic in real time, applying a kaleidoscopic filter to the feed, which he likens to a Rorschach test. There’s a pull-down menu on the page, allowing you to select camera views from all over the city; our favorite, of course, is the one at 34th Street and Twelfth Avenue, near Time Out’s offices (pictured).
 
The result is cool and trippy, and definitely hypnotic. It’s a welcome relief from work, one that you could blissfully stare at for hours if your boss doesn’t catch you. Also, it just might give you some idea of what all those cabbies tripping balls are seeing as they hurtle recklessly down the street.


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