Gateway to the World: Data Visualisation Poetics





Maps by Mapbox.


Gateway to the World (GttW) was developed specifically for an exhibition in Hamburg, Germany 2014. I took this opportunity to research the city of Hamburg to discover it had one of the largest ports in the world; its name Gateway to the World, seemed like a great title for the work. The vast and busy port served as a metaphor for the immensity of the Internet, the flow of information and its meaning of openness and outreach to the World Wide Web.

GttW is an exploration of data visualisation poetics by using open data from the maritime database to visualise the routes of the vessels arriving to and from the Port of Hamburg. As the vessels move they act as writing tools to reveal a string of text creating calligramatic forms of information pulled from Wikipedia entries about the name of the vessels.

The information gathered from these entries generates a remix of texts going from presenting factual information about vessels (containers, cargo ships, tankers, high speed crafts) to describing their names connecting them to characters in literary works, plays and mythological stories.

Key words: data visualisation, iPad, app, Internet, software, programming, open data, translation, poetics, e-calligrams, collaboration.


Further versions have been developed for Bergen, Barcelona, Bremen


Programmer-Pascal Auberson.

Information and link to the online work (Hamburg, Bergen, Barcelona, Bremen)


and colaboration with Urban City Dashboards: National Centre for Geocomputation and multimodal visualisation research group at National University of Ireland Maynooth. link to the online work (Ireland, Hamburg, Bergen, Barcelona, Bremen and more)


Features: Interactive mode: facility of zooming in and out by pinching and stretching the image, and the texts can be tracked out into the North Sea and down the River Elbe, the Fjords, the Mediterranean and the Weser river. Animated vessels move as writing tools revealing text.






First App supported by Kingston University.

Documentation of Installation in Hamburg






SILT Exhibition, MyToro Gallery, Hamburg, Germany.


Exhibitions: Germany, Norway, Spain, Ireland.

Mencía M. (2017), Gateway to the World, Building City Dashboards, Data Art Exhibition, Maynooth University Library, Ireland.

Mencía M. (2017), Gateway to the World: Ireland (Dublin, Cork and Galway), Moore Institute, Galway, Ireland.
Mencía M. (2016), Gateway to the World: Bremen, Shape Shifting Texts, Bremen, Germany.
Mencía M. (2016), Gateway to the Mediterranean, Paraules Pixelades La literatura en l’era digital Exhibition, Arts Santa Mónica, Barcelona, Spain.
Mencía M. (2015), Gateway to the Fjords, was developed for the ELO 2015, End(s) of Electronic Literature Festival Exhibition, University of Bergen Arts Library, Bergen, Norway.
Mencía M. (2014), Gateway to the World, Group Show SILT, Hamburg, Germany.


This project has been selected as example of best practice in digital literature by a group of research partners in the Netherlands (KVB boekwerk (the Dutch knowledge and innovation platform for the book sector) and the Dutch Foundation for Literature) who are conducting research into original and innovative works in Digital Literature.


Article: Mencía M, (2017)Gateway to the World: Data Visualisation Poetics in Volume 23, GRAMMA: Journal of Theory and Criticism
Digital Literary Production and the Humanities.
Rapatzikou T. G. & Leonard P. (eds). This paper has been written in conjunction with the practical based work. Link to article Gateway to the World: Data Visualisation Poetics.