Here we use our DataBlocks tool to create a hands-on tangible method of browsing through the TIME magazine archive 1923-2014. Our design integrates the notions of serendipitous discovery with hands-on user engagement. This work was presented at ISEA2017 (International Symposium of Electronic Art 2017) in Manizales, Colombia. The video below demonstrates the interactions with the blocks.

A web-version of the screen part of the interface can be explored here:
In this web-version, you can click on decade, year, or months buttons in the top header to select a time range, and clicking on a magazine at any time opens the magazine for exploration.

This video demonstrates the interactions used to browse through the TIME magazine archive. Users can specify a decade, a year, and a month by placing and positioning blocks on the table.

How to use this interface


About this work

This work is an extension of a web-art piece (online at that questions open access, public accessibility, and fair use by putting proprietary cultural archives into the public sphere. This collection of TIME magazine issues from 1923 to 2014 was obtained at While activists have made the data publically accessible, the online work took the idea further by making the data intelligible and inviting.

Making the data available through a browsable platform examines the difference between open access and accessibility. TIME Magazine archives are available to those with an institutional affiliation, and to those willing and able to pay; the activists have made the data available to those who have computers and skills to download it. With this work, we remove barriers to access, and advance the notion that cultural artifacts, such as TIME Magazine, should be available to the public to help everyone fulfill their civic duty to cultivate a well-informed understanding of cultural and political history.

In other work that explores the TIME magazine corpus, we have extracted and analyzed images of faces that appear in the magazine throughout the archive. Read more about it here: