What is data-based art?
Data-based art includes what is known as data visualisation (or dataviz) and data storytelling (for example interactive design and infographics), but as any other art form, it can move beyond representation to become more critical, experimental, and explorative. Data arts also move beyond the visual, to create artwork using sound, dance, movement, or sculpture.
How can data art help improve health and wellbeing?
Data art can help health and wellbeing stakeholders spread key messages about health and wellbeing, and can provoke debate and discussion. The ART/DATA/HEALTH project explores how creative approaches based on a range of data can help people to explore health and wellbeing in an engaging and meaningful way.
- Pharmacopoeia, Cradle to Grave
- Jer Thorp, Cloudy with a Chance of Pain
- Stefanie Posavec and Giorgia Lupi, Dear Data
- Giorgia Lupi, The Bruises We Don’t See: a data art project that explores the impact of childhood illness on a family
- Laurie Frick, Floating Data and Moodjam: data art using self-tracking records
- Stefanie Posavec and Miriam Quick, Air Transformed: a visualization of the burden that air pollution places on bodies
There are also lots of online platforms available for you to explore more examples of data art:
- Watch TEDtalks on data art
- The blog Information is Beautiful offers a range of artistic and infographic pieces to explore all kinds of data, including the short film ‘Making Data into Art’.
- The free Flowing Data blog offers resources for exploring data visualisation yourself as well as examples of data art.
Many cities and regions also run festivals including data artworks (for example, Brighton, Bristol, Leeds, Lincoln, Keele and Halifax all have Digital Festivals), while the V&A runs an annual Digital Design Weekend as part of the London Design Festival.
The Open Data Institute runs a data art programme called ‘Data as Culture’. They commission international artists to produce work that explores how data can be positive, engaging forces for good. Artworks have included a semi-sentient vending machine, data collection performances, photographs, networked artworks, pneumatic machines, live-coding performances and ‘stitch-hacked’ jumpers.
Data, creativity and advocacy
Combining creative languages with data can help make a difference in local communities.
Take a look at these examples of striking data visualisation using photography and sculpture. Both of them are trying to raise awareness of different forms of pollution in very striking, visually clear ways. Each of these campaigns will be backed up by complex sets of data, but it is these images which tell a story and can lead to changes in behaviour.
Greenpeace poster campaign: ‘How to starve to death on a full stomach’
The caption reads: ‘How to starve to death on a full stomach. The 272 pieces of rubbish pictured above were fed to this fledging albatross along with fish caught by its mother. The plastic accumulated in its stomach until it was literally ‘too full to eat’. Careless and unregulated dumping is just one of the ways we’re killing our oceans. Become an ocean defender at oceans.greenpeace.org.’
WWF community campaign: ‘Black Cloud’
This campaign uses one very striking piece of art to highlight a key issue at a single glance. The text on the balloon reads: ‘Drive one day less and look how much carbon monoxide you’ll keep out of the air we breathe.’