This Is What Internet Traffic Looks Like When You 3D Print It

This might look like a child's first attempt at using a potter's wheel, but you're actually looking at a solid object that represents the flow of digital data that is internet traffic.

It's an art installation called EXtrace by Vincent Brinkmann and it uses a 3D printer (of sorts) to craft an object which represents the traffic flowing through Frankfurt's De-Cix Internet node—one of the busiest in the world. Based on the traffic, the printer extrudes a column of clay onto a rotating plate; the more traffic, the thicker the column of clay. A new pot is crafted every two days. As Vincent Brinkmann puts it:

EXtrace reflects the change from quality to quantity of modern communication as the printed sculpture itself don't mirror the data input that they have been created with, but conserving this hidden data physically for centuries.

It's an interesting way of making a transient and rather ethereal concept like internet traffic a more solid, tangible thing. It's been on display in Hochschultage in Germany, though it's unclear where it will head next. [Vincent Brinkmann via 3DPrint via Engadget]