We Need Us illuminates the Southbank Centre's Royal Festival Hall

See data making art this weekend - 28-30 November.

We Need Us, an artwork composed of a series of living, dynamic ‘scenes’, commissioned by the Open Data Institute (ODI) and The Space, will be projected onto the exterior of Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall for Web We Want Festival this weekend (November 28-30). We Need Us was created by artist and ODI Art Associate Julie Freeman, and launched on October 6th at TED Global, Brazil.

We Need Us is powered by people using the web. It is an animated artwork that uses open metadata – data about data – from global users of citizen science platform, Zooniverse. The piece explores the real-time online presence, clicks and selections of this community by manipulating their data, creating rhythms which are translated into abstract sound and visual compositions. As the latest addition to the ODI’s Data as Culture art programme We Need Us asks:

If data had lives of their own, what would they be doing?

A 15 minute sequence of 13 different animated compositions will be projected onto the western side of Southbank Centre’s Royal Festival Hall from 4pm till 11pm on Friday 28th, Saturday 29th and Sunday 30th November.

The new Web We Want Festival is celebrating 25 years of the World Wide Web in partnership with Web pioneer and innovator Sir Tim Berners-Lee’s World Wide Web Foundation. It is a weekend of digital art, events and activities about the web and its 25-year history.

Julie Freeman, creator of We Need Us and ODI Art Associate, said:

We Need Us embraces the core values of the web: real-time connectivity, the action of the crowd, the ability to share and help each other, and the transformation of personal action into global experience. By projecting the work onto the Royal Festival Hall for the Web We Want Festival we give everyone the chance to encounter it. Digital street art for all!

Gavin Starks, CEO of the ODI, said:

We Need Us explores the relationship between humans, nature, science, and the web. Being able to experience We Need Us, a digital artwork, outdoors brings together our physical and digital lives. Public perception of the “data spectrum” is that everything from wikileaks to GCHQ to bus timetables occupy a similar space. We urgently need a public conversation about the role of data in society, its risks and its benefits. Our Data As Culture programme is designed to help stimulate this debate.

Ruth Mackenzie, Director of The Space, said:

Exploring our joint values and determination to encourage exciting new work, We Need Us is the first piece from an exciting partnership with the ODI – a champion for the openness of data and the freedom of expression for artists, and all of us.

The Web We Want Festival is taking place over three weekends:

  • 27 – 28 September 2014
  • 28 – 30 November 2014
  • 29 – 31 May 2015