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Poetics and Politics of Data

The phenomenon of “Big Data”, the boundless generation, collection, and interpretation of a growing amount of digital data, challenges not only science and technology, but increasingly becomes a concern for artists and designers as well. Growing amounts of allegedly meaningful data not only require new methods of statistical analysis but also novel forms of aesthetic interpretation and media representations. Therefore, they are certainly a matter of artistic interrogation and media aesthetic critique.

Apart from that, the abuse of data raises ethico-juristic issues regarding the protection of democratic values, privacy, and open access, which more and more become critically addressed by artists and designers. Within the poles of possibilities and restricitions of Big Data, telling concepts and strategies of data interpretation and critique are developed in the field of media arts as well as design: be it by means of visual, sonic, or physical representations, by narrative approaches taken by critical or speculative design, or by media installations and performative interventions.

Big Data as a heterogenous matter, interweaving different strategies from media arts and design with questions of science and technology development as well as socio-cultural values will be explored in the project by the realisation of an extensive exhibition of invited but also commissioned works. It will be accompanied by an interdisciplinary program of events, a publication, and a website.

The project is funded within the Pro Helvetia initiative “Digital Culture” and carried out in cooperation with the House of Electronic Arts Basel, TA-SWISS (Centre for Technology Assessment) and Opendata.ch (Swiss Chapter of the Open Knowledge Foundation).