BYO Lunchtime Lectures at ODI: Data as Culture

11 January 2013, 1:00 pm – 1:45 pm
The Open Data Institute, 65 Clifton St, Shoreditch, London Borough of Hackney, EC2A, UK

Introducing Friday Lunchtime Lectures at the Open Data Institute.
You bring your lunch, we provide tea & coffee, an interesting talk,
and enough time to get back to your desk.

For our first lecture…

Curators of the ODI Data as Culture art commission, TED Senior Fellow,
Julie Freeman, and MzTEK co-founder, Sophie McDonald, will provide a
background of the data-driven art movement, why this commission is so
timely, and take you on a tour of the art works installed at the ODI
offices.

20Hz (2011)
Semiconductor

Body 01000010011011110110010001111001 (2012)
Stanza

Metrography (2012)
Benedikt Groß & Bertrand Clerc

Still Lifes and Oscillators 1 (2012)
Ben Garrod

Text Trends (2012)
Martin John Callanan

The Obelisk (2012)
Fabio Lattanzi Antinori

The SKOR Codex (2012)
La Société Anonyme

Three flames ate the sun, and big stars were seen (2012)
Phil Archer

Vending Machine (2009)
Ellie Harrison

To book your place sign up here

Text Trends newspaper series for the launch of The Open Data Institute

To celebrate the launch of The Open Data Institute, a new series of Text Trends in newspaper form will be available for  from November 2012 to May 2013 at the ODI HQ in London, and added to their art collection:

Semiconductor
Stanza
Benedikt Groß & Bertrand Clerc
Ben Garrod
Martin John Callanan
Fabio Lattanzi Antinori
La Société Anonyme
Phil Archer
Ellie Harrison

Data is driving decisions that shape our daily lives: from friends to governments, we are becoming more reliant on connected data. Global opinion is increasingly communicated through data-driven visuals. Personal well-being, sentiment and influence are continually monitored through data-harvesting devices. Knowledge at all levels and on all topics can be handed to anyone, at any time. Open data is shaping our society.

 

In curating the showcase for the ODI we wanted to select a range of works that would not just reflect different data sources, but that would challenge our understanding of what data is, and how it may affect and reflect our lives. We were privileged in the breadth of content and the quality of work that was submitted as part of the open call, allowing for scope to select works that could comment on, complement and challenge perceptions in a coherent collection. The works range from geomagnetic data visualisations, to wall painted cellular automata, to tabloid newspapers of search term trend graphs – all tangible interventions into the mass accretion of data around us.

 

In Phil Archer’s work data comes from the depths of time, as symbolic representations of solar eclipses dating from 2137 BCE to 1991 CE are sketched in ultraviolet light. In contrast, ‘The SKOR Codex’ looks to preserve data for the distant future. The book, printed by La Société Anonyme, contains encoded binary information that has been carefully fabricated to last for over 1,000 years.

 

The works span space as well as time, in ‘20Hz’, geo-magnetic storm measurements are taken from the Earth’s upper atmosphere, while ‘Metrography’ portrays the London Underground transit map as a spatial reality – data defining specious geography. In ‘Still Lifes and Oscillators 1’ the mistreatment of image data by reformatting, reducing, and regenerating, questions the representation of visual data as the ultra-processed image, as the final stable state from a cellular automata cycle is painted back onto the space it was captured from.

 

Real-time environmental data is embodied in Stanza’s life-size sculpture assembled from computer components and acrylic slices of his own physique. In ‘Body 01000010011011110110010001111001’ the urban environment provides a dynamic flickering and clicking sentience to the otherwise inert structure, reflecting the personal level of influence data has on an individual, whereas Martin John Callanan’s ‘Text Trends’ reflects our actions en masse.

 

Works by Ellie Harrison and Fabio Lattanzi Antinori embody the current global political environment that is in constant flux, barely noticed on a personal scale, but that potentially have significant consequences for each of us.

 

As data becomes more accessible to artists, as it opens up for use as a raw material, we are seeing more of its integration into works that explore environmental socio-political and economic aspects of society. By utilising data in an experiential way, this selection of works pulls data out of the virtual domain and into our physical world. We hope the exhibition provokes discussion around what open data is, how it informs and affects us, and how we interpret it in a way that is meaningful.

 

MzTEK worked with the ODI to encourage a broad spectrum of applicants, and in the interest of openness we will release the demographic data from the submission process.

 

We would like to thank the ODI for all the support we have received, and for co-creating this with us.

Finally, we would like to thank all of the artists involved for their thought provoking works and their professionalism in the production of this collection.

Julie Freeman & Sophie McDonald, MzTEK, November 2012

Some of the other artworks:

To Be or Not To Be – Private

Location of I included in a Rhizome Exhibit curated by Michelle Graham:

Privacy is something that is becoming more and more scarce in today’s electronic society. Where it doesn’t seem to bother some, others will go to great lengths to preserve what shreds they have left. Artists mirror the varying public opinions on this matter. Some such as Roch Forowicz want to bring to the attention of all that their privacy is being invaded without their knowledge or rather without their attention. It is general knowledge that there are surviellance cameras watching us when we enter certain areas. Without a second thought we pass by them and don’t think about them again. But if you do stop and think about it, our image is being captured, our actions are being recorded. The thought of Big Brother may cross your mind. It should, because you are being watched and you have no control over that record of your actions. That moment of your life no longer belongs to you, not alone at least. Forowicz saw the error in this and wanted to express his frustration in being observed. He transplanted a surviellance camera from one area to another. While not changing the function of the camera he did change its purpose. Generally the camera is not meant to allow the observed to become the observer. He projected the observed images up on the wall of the subway station they were walking into. This enabled them to immediately recognize the fact that they were being monitored. Because this was all deemed illegal, this act was short lived but very effective. On the other end of the spectrum there is British artist Ellie Harrison who is willing to share her private moments with anyone willing to log on. Everyday since January 1, 2006 she has faithfully made entries into her online journal. Entitled Tea Blog, appropriately Ellie Harrison records the first thought she has while enjoying her first warm beverage of the day. While not very informative it allows for a brief glimpse into the inner workings of her mind. Something that most people wouldn’t say out loud let alone share with the world, she puts it out there freely for all to read. Martin John Callanan also gives up his privacy freely. Through his work entitled Location I, he has enabled anyone to be able to learn his location at anytime. He has labeled himself an “absolute citizen”, he has made himself everyones neighbor although not physically. He wanted to make himself accessible for anyone to talk to, work with or just be able to contact him whenever and where ever he is. While all of these are taken to be true there is the possibility of false statements being made. We take it on good faith that the thoughts that Ellie Harrison are making in her Tea Blog really are her first thoughts, and that Martin John Callanan is where he says he is. These thoughts maybe intriguing, it may add an element of suspicion to the situation. There is room for interpretation and specutlation of the private lives that we are getting glimpses of. Whether it’s guessing the destinations of the people walking in and out of the subway, or the first thoughts of a women you’ll never meet or the location of a man you have no intention of ever contacting. It is interesting to have the knowledge and the ability to know more. The artist Ethan Ham recognized the interest in the stories behind the faces. He created art with a program that attempts to make facial recognitions. With this program he coupled photographs with short stories written by Benjamin Rosenbaum. Through this collaboration he created Anthroptic. While a photograph of someone of something appears you can listen to a story behind the photograph. Whether it is about someone they met or about the thoughts that were triggered by the photograph. There is a continuity between the story and the photograph that seems to bridge the gap and fill in the history. While watching the display there is no doubt that the two are meant to go together, it is a voyueristic experience. Like listening in on someones private conversation. Then you find out that it is actors reading Rosenbaums short stories and the photographs are random and the stories are not related. Privacy is the key to all of these works of art. Whether they are trying to preserve it, give it up or layer it beneath falsehood, privacy is a topic that all can relate to. I also believe it is human nature to be interested in others lives, it can be like reading a good book. Always wanting to learn more about others, it may help us to understand ourselves.

Callanan has labeled himself an “absolute citizen”, he has enabled anyone to be able to find him at anytime. Through the digital world anyone can find him, work with him and even speak with him if that is what they desire. This sacrifice of privacy has allowed him to become everyones neighbor. Callanan is creating a global village, in his digital world there may not be physical contact but there are connections being made.

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