Monday, September 10, 2007

Against Information - a Data Art Critique

Next week I'm off to Perth for DAC, where I'll be presenting a paper focusing on data art. It looks at a good handful of works from the last few years, including The Dumpster by Golan Levin with Kamal Nigam and Jonathan Feinberg, We Feel Fine by Jonathan Harris and Sepandar Kamvar, Alex Dragulescu's spam visualisations, Lisa Jevbratt's 1:1 and Infome Imager Lite, Brad Borevitz's State of the Union and some of Jason Salavon's abstraction and amalgamation works.

The paper develops the questions that I posted here a while ago, focusing on how artists construct a notion of data while they use it as a creative material. It especially considers the distinction between data and information, arguing that data art often works to defer, abstract or undermine information - in the sense of a formed or contextualised message - and instead offers us a more open or underdetermined experience of the data as abstract pattern and relation. The problem here is that we can't have unmediated access to the abstract data - it's always mapped to something, structured in ways extraneous to the dataset. And data itself is always extracted, made or constructed, not some kind of autonomous digital object.

The case studies are clumped around four data-figures: indexical data - data as a sign of something real - as in The Dumpster and We Feel Fine; abject data - data as empty and malleable, as in Dragulescu's work; Lisa Jevbratt's data material or Infome; and data as anti-content or "artist's squint" in Salavon's work and Borevitz's State of the Union.

Anyhow, here's the full paper (3.3Mb pdf). Feedback very welcome, of course.

(update: the pdf file was corrupt, sorry - fixed now)

1 comment:

Mitchell said...

This paper has just been published in Fibreculture - citations should refer to that source.