The Data Imaginary: Fears and Fantasies brings together artists and designers to show how creative applications of data technology are crucial for a vital, inclusive and sustainable future, all central concerns in our contemporary lives. The exhibition includes works that explore data both critically and playfully to reflect on climate change, location data, data legacies, 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, and the repurposing of the predictive capacities of data to prompt reflection and behavioural change by design researchers Geoff Hinchcliffe and Mitchell Whitelaw. These works demonstrate how contemporary creative practices redefine data to shape cultural narratives about data.
Under the theme of location data, artists and designers investigate the effects and possibilities of precise mapping data available through the Global Positioning System (GPS) and the challenges of meaningfully interpreting this information. The demand for the repatriation of 660 Indigenous ancestral remains in the Queensland Museum, conveyed by Aidan Rowlingson through his neckpiece, and the living maps that mark the placenames of massacre sites across Australia visualised by Judy Watson, challenge the social imaginary of archival data as a reliable repository. Through poetic prompts based on geolocated data, the Interaction Research Studio draws attention to the social costs of rapid urbanization, and the widening differences between the suburbs of London in the DataCatcher.
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 Silvio Carta simulates a dystopian futurescape of AI. 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.
Artists and Designers: Robert Andrew, Silvio Carta, Countess.Report, Andrew Gall, Lola Greeno, Geoff Hinchcliffe & Mitchell Whitelaw, Interaction Research Studio, Jenna Lee, Joana Moll, Patrick Pound, Aidan Rowlingson, Judy Watson, Warraba Weatherall and Tali Weinberg.
The Data Imaginary: Fears and Fantasies was first exhibited at Griffith University Art Museum, Brisbane. This second iteration of the exhibition is curated by Angela Goddard, Griffith University Art Museum; Associate Professor Katherine Moline, University of New South Wales; Amanda Hayman & Troy Casey (Blaklash Creative); and Associate Professor Beck Davis, Australian National University.
This exhibition was conceived on the traditional lands of the Ngunnawal, Gadigal, Dharug, Gundungurra, Yuggara and Turrbal peoples. The curators acknowledge the traditional custodians of these lands, pay respect to their Elders, past and present, and extend that respect to all Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples today.