Thursday, June 2, 2011

[Yasmin_discussions] Living data


I am interested to read Vikki's post, particularly have
experienced last week's VIVID event. I too have observed a growing
number of artists who are attracted to working with data. The word
data seems to have gathered around it an appeal that goes beyond its
definition as mere measurements and statistics.

The VIVID event comprised many small
and large scale light projections. At the launch it was was promoted
as a Design event that was innovative, sustainable and creative.
Individual statements by designers and design companies made references
to their innovative projections of data. Was it innovative? Apart
from the fact that LED lights are now replacing incandescent lighting
forms, many of the works appeared to collect and project the same old
data (random movements of people) in the same old ways (through motion,
heat or light sensors). Sustainable? The scale of the event was so huge
it made me wonder about its carbon footprint. Creative? Creativity has
no clear definition, but I had to ask, How does such work contribute
to creating a more sustainable world?

However, VIVID gave many people pleasure. It was, quite simply
seductive colour and movement. It brought people together in a
space and made us think and talk. I was seduced by the beauty of
the works and stimulated by discussions that they led to. One
discussion was about how there are artists and scientists
who have an interest in connecting many people to data that has more
meaning than random human actions. We agreed that there is a
place for designers to develop such displays, but a need for
connections to be made between them and artists and scientists.

Such connections are starting to be made at UTS, and I am keen to know
of other places where this is happening.

At UTS this year, a confluence of interests naturally arose between
me, a climate change scientist and an artist who works with data. This
has led to a new research project, Living data: How animation can bring
scientific data to life, which I will lead through the Climate Change
Cluster (C3) in the Faculty of Scientists. I will work with
plankton ecologist Martina Doblin (PhD UTS) and artist and data
visualizer Gail Kenning (PhD UNSW). Students and their tutors at UTS and
other universities in Australia and overseas will be offered
opportunities to participate in the research through field trips,
workshops, exhibitions, conferences, publications and the on-line
research journal.

Please read the Project Outline below and let us know if you would like
us to us keep you posted of our progress.

Project Outline

The need to communicate accurate and accessible information about the
integral connections between human actions and the global ecosystem is
urgent. As artists and scientists we propose a two-year program of
research into how art and science methods can be used to make digital
animations that present scientific data in ways that can expand
awareness of the place of humans within the natural systems. A visual
language of archetypal forms used in art and science to describe
feelings of connection and forces of change in the natural world will
be combined. Animations that appeal to the senses and intellect will
give new meanings to climate change data by connecting them to human
experience. Animations will be made accessible from a free on-line
archive and distributed widely. Our research will model a new
pedagogical framework for teaching and learning that reflects our view
of the world as a dynamic integrated whole.

Roberts, L; Doblin, M.; Kenning, G. May 2011


Lisa Roberts, PhD Fine Arts (UNSW)

PO Box 486
Newtown NSW
Australia 2042

Tel. +61 2 9550 2806
Mob. 0428 502 805
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