Raining on bus (s)tops

05 February 2012

BusTops Shoreditch profile

or: “I made some public art”.

It’s been lovely to see Bus Tops finally emerge into the world. If you’re not aware: it’s a series of LED-matrix screens on the top of bus stops around London, displaying a curated programme of art that anyone can submit works to. It’s been beautiful to see it come to life so well: feels like a thing, has its own aesthetic, the public nature of it feels exciting and odd and transgressive.

I decided I ought to start making some things for it. I’m particularly interested in the screens as an animated medium. So far, I’ve submitted two works; one, an original, and the other, very much not, although it’s the kind of thing that needs to be on giant red LED matrixes.


Ripples has been selected for display, which is quite exciting! It’s a short animation that makes it look a little like it’s raining on top of the bus stop, even when it’s not. It was a nice exercise for me: making something attractive, graphical, in code (which is not my sweet spot of programming).

An hour or so with Processing later and I was getting somewhere, and it didn’t take much longer with the rather lovely gifAnimation library to spit out an animated gif to import into the Bus Tops editor.

The original animation that Ripples is based on can be viewed here. The source code for it is also on that site.

This feels like a good beginning, and I have a few more ideas for abstract moving works that would look good in red, black, and nighttime, from the top of a double-decker.

(And, as reference primarily for myself: the way you fixed “sad about not making things” is by just starting things, ideally small things, and before you know they’re done.)

Update: and here’s what it looks like on top of a bus stop. Static:

and in motion:

(thanks to the Bus Tops site for the images)