ODI Summit: Q&A with Julie Freeman

With so much focus being placed on the commercial and political applications for open data resources, you’d be forgiven for overlooking the fact that data can be a quite beautiful thing. In terms of its mimetic qualities, data can produce an unparallelled snapshot of the world around us. It’s no surprise then that practitioners from across the cultural industries are harnessing data as both a material and a tool to enhance and develop their work.

London-based artist and researcher Julie Freeman will use the upcoming Open Data Institute Summit (October 29th) to further our thinking on data’s place in culture. We asked Julie a couple of questions about what we can expect from the session.

What will you be talking about at the Open Data Summit? What kind of conversation do you hope to create or enhance?

I've convened the Data as Culture session at the summit. It's a great line up with speakers from the BBC, Science Museum, Europeana, Museum of London and Lighthouse Digital Culture Agency so we will be having a conversation about the various roles that data plays within the cultural sector, how open data will change the processes of providing and consuming culture.

We will look at:

  • data generated by cultural organisations and activities
  • data that is cultural content
  • artists and artworks that use data as a material
  • critical discourse, exhibitions and informational material that elucidates data within today's culture

What's the background to the panel?

The Open Data Institute sees the creative use of data as an intrinsic and essential part of our cultural landscape. As part of it’s ongoing operations, the it has an art programme committed to facilitating artists in the exhibition and creation of works which translate data into something that is meaningful to people’s lives.

In September 2012, the ODI published an open call for participation in an exhibition at their new premises. In two weeks, we received 89 proposals of work, from 21 countries. Nine works were selected for their diversity of data use, and their cohesion as a whole collection. Only one was screen based - the idea of the web “breaking through the glass” and becoming part of our physical world could not be more timely, and significant, to the work of the ODI.

In 2014 the Data as Culture programme will see a geographically dispersed exhibition, spanning London, Brighton, Manchester and beyond.

There’s now less than one week to go before the Open Data Institute’s First Annual Summit and Gala Dinner (Tuesday October 29). Alongside Julie’s Data as Culture session, topics to be discussed include open data in finance and politics, and the role of open data in business. After a day of keynotes, fireside chats and lighting speeches, Sir Tim Berners-Lee will address an exclusive Gala Dinner.