Data Landscapes

The artists engage with a large scale image of a model of the Antartic Southern Ocean.
Tom Corby, The Southern Ocean Studies, Data Landscapes

Exhibition and symposium exploring the use of data and models of climate science within visual  arts contexts.

Data Landscapes explores the use of data and models of climate science within visual arts contexts. The  Data Landscapes exhibition features works by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily + Jonathan Mackenzie; Lise Autogena + Joshua Portway.

The exhibition will be preceded by a half-day symposium on Friday 20 May, investigating the creative potential of climate data, and how multidisciplinary art-science practices can appropriate data models and disseminate them to new audiences. 

Exhibition

Works by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily + Jonathan Mackenzie; Lise Autogena + Joshua Portway

Our modern understanding of climate arises from modeled data, gathered from multiple sources and synthesised across models of various types. ‘Data Landscapes’ presents two artworks that utilise real-time data to create poetic mappings of global systems.

‘Data Landscapes’ is organised by CREAM (The Centre for Research and Education in Arts and Media, University of Westminster) in partnership with The Arts Catalyst. It forms part of an AHRC funded network project which has been exploring the use of data and models of climate science within visual arts contexts.

The Southern Ocean Studies by Tom Corby, Gavin Baily + Jonathan Mackenzie reveals hidden systemic complexity using climate model outputs of the Antarctic Southern Ocean. Currents circulating the central Antarctic land mass are generated in real-time and mapped against other environmental data sets. These produce flickering constellations of carbon circulation and wind direction, developing something that might be called a systems or materialist poetics. The project has been produced in collaboration with the British Antarctic Survey.

The project software runs in real-time generating the ocean currents encircling Antarctica, to, which are, mapped various ecological data sets. These geophysical phenomena visually mesh to produce filamented structures from data describing tidal flow, wind direction and geochemical and atmospheric flux. While it’s tempting to see the swirling forms as representative of an Antarctic wilderness, in actuality the patterning effect is as much a product of human activies as natural ecologies. The Southern Ocean is a crucial component of the Earth’s climate system as it may be responsible for absorbing 15% of the planets carbon emissions. Carbon saturation of this stretch of water caused by inaction on climate change, has had knock on effect in terms of increased heat transference throughout the planet; the intricacies of the patterning are bittersweet representing both the beauties of a complex Earth system and a political and social failure.

The project has involved extensive research into how climate systems work, climate model technologies and scientific research methodologies. In doing so it has received expert advice concerning climate data and modelling from Nathan Cunningham, David Walton, Andrew Clarke and Claire Tancell from the British Antarctic survey; access to climate data sets from Bob Hallberg from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration; Southampton’s Oceanographic Centre and the ARGO programme.

Lisa Autogena + Joshua Portway’s Most Blue Skies combines the latest in atmospheric research, environmental monitoring and sensing technologies with the romantic history of the blue sky and its fragile optimism. It addresses our changing relationship to the sky as the subject for scientific and symbolic representation. Fed by live global atmospheric data, the installation calculates the passage of light through particulate matter in the atmosphere and computes sky colours for five million places on earth, while displaying ongoing calculations and a global map of sky colours. A specially developed lighting system reproduces the colour of the current bluest sky in real time.

Most Blue Skies is an ongoing project by Joshua Portway and Lise Autogena. The first editions of Most Blue Skies were shown at the Gwangju Biennale in South Korea in 2006, Copenhagen Climate Summit, 2009 and Tensta Kunsthalle, Sweden, 2010. A scaled down presentation of the project will be shown here.

Most Blue Skies attempts to answer the child’s question: “Where is the bluest sky in the world?” - and it is a painstakingly laborious pursuit for an answer: Advanced realtime satellite and atmospheric sensor data is processed by custom-built software, simulating the passage of light through the atmosphere and calculating the colour of the sky at millions of places on earth. Minute by minute, as the earth rotates and weather systems change, the location of the most blue sky is displayed, along with the most accurate possible reproduction of it’s colour.  It plays with the tension between the simplicity and romance of the image of the blue sky, and the complex technology involved in measuring and representing it. It explores our changing perception of the sky space above us and the effort required to sustain a human vision of nature.

Developed with support from Tom Riley, Newcastle University, Space and Atmospheric Physics at Imperial College London, The Met Office, UCL Colour and Vision Research Laboratory, The Alexandra Institute, The US National Physical Laboratory and NASA.

Symposium

Friday 20 May 2011, 1:30 – 6pm. Free.

The Data Landscapes symposium will investigate the creative potential of climate data, and how multidisciplinary art-science practices can appropriate data models and disseminate them to new audiences. For more details click on the link opposite.

Video footage is available at http://data-ecologies.ning.com/page/data-landscapes

Supported by

Data Landscapes is supported by the AHRC, University of Westminster and Arts Council England.