Posted in communication and networking, design and architecture, museum

Data-driven art exhibition

From Underwire: The cryptic works on display at London’s Decode: Digital Design Sensations exhibition manipulate raw data as a kind of virtual pigment, finding form and fun amid the sensory overload that threatens to overwhelm the 21st-century hive mind.

Several exhibition pieces showcased at Victoria and Albert Museum depend on human presence to produce their full effect. A motion-detecting eyeball, for examples, blinks each time a visitor blinks. In another piece, a video screen enables visitors to “paint” smears of color through the power of their gyrations.

Other installations, on display through April 11, strip-mine data streams from Twitter, translate a day’s worth of flight routes into animated abstract art and hurl text-message fragments onto dozens of tiny display screens. Building on video art experiments that took root in the ’80s at Ars Electronica, Siggraph and other events, Decode contributors experiment with programming languages to toy with questions about man, machine and the data that binds.

Decode is about demystifying the black art or magic of digital while showing that this work can be poetic, emotional and poignant,” show co-curator Shane R.J. Walter told in an e-mail interview. Walter, creative director for the OneDotZero digital arts site, said the exhibition pieces “highlight issues in our everyday lives such as the overabundance of information and how we deal with this through data visualization.” The Decode artists, he writes, “use code as a material to work with just as sculptors work with clay.”

In addition to the curated works, the exhibition hosts the Recode project, which invites programmers to repurpose custom software featured in U.K. designer Karsten Schmidt’s animated video (embedded above) as a foundation for their own variations. Dave Price, for example, reconfigured the original programming language to make Eye Like Recode.

See the rest of the artwork

Bit Code, German artist Julius Popp


Beth Kelley is an applied & digital anthropologist with an overall interest in how people engage with and are impacted by their environments and vice versa. This has manifested itself in many ways, by looking at creativity, playful spaces, built environments, and environmental enrichment, sustainability, design research, and integrative and collaborative models of learning such as through play and hands-on learning.