Data Art: From the Aesthetic Conceptualization of Data to Information Critique

On: February 12, 2013
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About Ana Crisostomo
My academic background includes a 4-year Bachelor's Degree in Communication and the attendance of the 1st year of a Master’s Degree in Communication, Culture and Information Technology. I have, however, the greatest excuse for this ‘non-completion’: I relocated from Portugal to the Netherlands amidst my educational adventure. My professional experience has been gathered in several industries within the private and public sectors, the commercial and non-profit spheres, and has been mainly focused on web content management and web project coordination. In parallel to the more ‘serious matters’, a lot of my time revolves around independent and alternative music. I also like interior design and several forms of contemporary urban art. I dislike cooking and writing on the 3rd person.

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I want you to want me - Jonathan Harris & Sep Kamvar

The current ubiquity of data populating every aspect of an individual’s digitally connected existence, alongside the computational possibilities of harnessing the same to convert it into distilled information, has introduced the theme of data as one of the most debated in recent years in a variety of fields ranging from academia to business, from science to popular media, and from politics to art.

In this particular essay, the focus is directed to the art world and the role that data plays in that particular sphere by discussing what is, currently labeled as, “data art” to understand the features which differentiate data visualization projects from artistic ones besides investigating possible common themes and methodologies among the latter. If data art can be affiliated to new media, does it enable, for instance, cognitive and perceptual transformations? Or does it operate solely on a more conceptual level? If “art attempts to create new relationships between familiar and as yet unfamiliar data” (Jennings 3), what are the particular connections that data art potentiates? In an era of excess of data, but often scarcity of information and meaning, what are the alternatives proposed by data art?

[The essay below was written within the theoretical framework provided in the 2012/13 New Media Theories course]

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