The Data Imaginary: Fears and Fantasies brings together artists and designers to show how creative applications of data are crucial for a vital, inclusive and sustainable future. The exhibition includes works that explore data both critically and playfully to reflect on climate change, location data, and data legacies and explore new possibilities for interacting with empathy from remote locations, learning about Indigenous cultural knowledges and reflecting on everyday habits that secure data privacy.
Some of the ways that artists and designers explore and interpret the challenges of climate data are seen in the shell necklaces by Palawa artist Lola Greeno, an art form that draws on a cultural practice extending back thousands of years passed to Greeno from her Elders, and Weinberg’s use of woven panels to trace and interpret 137 years of annual average temperature of the world’s oceans with climate data.
Under the theme of location data, artists and designers explore how intersubjective meanings can develop through shared experiences, such as the living maps that mark the placenames of massacre sites across Australia visualised by Judy Watson, and the sonic landscape artwork by Anna Raupach that maps Mount Annan Botanic Gardens.
A major aspect of this exhibition is also the exploration of data legacies through representations of historical, archival data. Warraba Weatherall reminds us that the distortion of data and the warehousing of cultural materials in institutional archives challenges the social imaginary of data as a medium of neutral objectivity, while Aidan Rowlingson creates a tangible and direct response to the repatriation program of the Queensland Museum, and Joana Moll focuses on Internet materiality, surveillance, social profiling and interfaces.
Together these works repurpose data to tell stories about the radical imaginary—the alternatives that diverge from and contradict the received truths and norms of the social imaginary—and open up data as a medium for creative exploration.
As a touring exhibition ‘The Data Imaginary: Fears and Fantasies’ was initiated as a collaboration between the University of New South Wales Faculty of Arts, Design and Architecture; Griffith University Art Museum; Blaklash Creative; and the Australian National University, School of Art and Design. As the exhibition tours to a new location (Brisbane, Adelaide, Canberra) a new artwork or design is invited for exhibition. In each venue, the exhibition is accompanied by a public program, extending conversations with the general public and inviting them to engage with the pressing issues of our time—climate change, location data, and data legacies. In an era of data intensification, bringing these works together facilitates critically inclusive conversations about what counts as knowledge.
Artists and Designers: Robert Andrew, Silvio Carta, Countess.Report, Andrew Gall, Lola Greeno, Benedikt Groß, Stephan Bogner and Herwig Scherabon, Interaction Research Studio, Jenna Lee, Joana Moll, Anna Madeleine Raupach, Aidan Rowlingson, Rosalind Smith and Mitchell Whitelaw, Judy Watson, Warraba Weatherall and Tali Weinberg.
Curatorium: Professor Beck Davis, Australian National University & Griffith University; Angela Goddard, Griffith University Art Museum; Amanda Hayman & Troy Casey, Blaklash Creative; and Associate Professor Katherine Moline, University of New South Wales.