Data Anthropologies: the Open Data Institute launches third season of Data as Culture art programme


Today the worlds of art and data collide at the public launch of the Open Data Institute’s (ODI) third Data as Culture season: ‘Data Anthropologies’.

Artworks from internationally acclaimed and newly appointed Artists in Residence, Thomson & Craighead, go on public display at the ODI London office, following the ODI’s two successful years of art exhibitions, events and commissions.

Data Anthropologies

‘Data Anthropologies’ examines the relationship between people and open data. The exhibition exploits the proliferation of data publicly available in society today, positioning people at the centre of data environments. Creating documentary-led artworks, Thomson & Craighead’s unveil real-time orchestrations of time, space, weather, and corruption while challenging the viewer to question what assumptions we make in our daily lives.

Hannah Redler, Curator in Residence at the ODI, said,

"Data Anthropologies’ is inspired by artists raising questions about how data is influencing the world. It challenges a common association with data that conjures thoughts of baffling images and inaccessible technology. We are inviting people to consider the role everyone plays in the emerging data landscapes we all navigate in our daily lives."

Thomson & Craighead’s materials include found YouTube footage, internet search terms and texts extracted from online sources. Works on display include:

  • Decorative Newsfeeds’ – live news headlines from around the world transformed into algorithmically drawn animated lines
  • Six Years of Mondays’ – the artists’ interpretation of time-lapsed weather recordings, originally published online by a Scottish man who records the weather outside his window every day from 6AM - 6PM
  • Flipped Clock’ – a fully functioning digital clock that challenges how we see time by rotating each displayed digit by 180°
  • ‘London Wall EC2’ – a collection of woodblock-style typographic tweets culled from recent messages sent from the Shoreditch area surrounding the ODI.

Thomson & Craighead, ODI Artists in Residence, said,

"Using a mixture of live information feeds, generative processes and more traditional techniques, we’re offering up a series of narrative glimpses of the world as it is mediated by online communications. Ultimately, we’re holding up a mirror to ourselves and making documentary artworks as participant observers. It has been an exciting challenge to exhibit away from publishing works online and exhibiting in galleries and museums. We hope our collection provokes interest during its time at the ODI."

Using art to catalyse an open culture

The Data as Culture 3 season continues the ODI’s commitment to unearth new understandings of open data and engage with wider audiences. Established in 2012, the art programme has achieved international reach, exhibited 14 artists, commissioned 6 pieces and will expand again this year. The programme supports the ODI’s ambition to catalyse positive social, economical and environmental impact with open data.

Julie Freeman, Art Associate, leading the Data as Culture programme said,

"We need new perspectives on open data. What we find upon opening things up will sometimes be messy. Our chosen Data as Culture 3 artists are adept at looking beyond sanitised content and explore what's beneath and beyond. I am very excited about the ideas they will generate, and the provocations they will make."

Thomson & Craighead’s artists’ residency at the ODI begins in March 2015 and ends in June 2015. From July 2015 until December 2015 the ODI is welcoming photographic artist Natasha Caruana as the next Artist in Residence. The Artists in Residence will be creating new works responding to open data, joining Julie Freeman’s ‘We Need Us’, in the ongoing programme.

Viewing Data as Culture 3

Following the official private view launch event on 24 March 2015, the exhibition can be viewed by prior arrangement Monday to Friday during office hours (excluding bank holidays) from 30 March 2015. To visit contact the ODI on 020 3598 9395, or [email protected].

Data Anthropologies is curated by Hannah Redler, Associate Curator in Residence, with Julie Freeman, Artist Associate and Gavin Starks, CEO.