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Second "Data as Culture" Exhibit Animates Open Data

BY Jessica McKenzie | Monday, March 24 2014

Screenshot from the short film about the art installation "Invisible Airs"

The second Data as Culture exhibit opens at the Open Data Institute (ODI) in London Monday evening. It features works of art built around and from open data sources, and is meant to provoke questions about data ownership and access and the fine line between public and private.

A photo gallery of some of the objects on display is available on the Telegraph online, including Sam Meech's Punchcard Economy banners: knitted data visualizations of the working hours of the self-employed—crowdsourced online through virtual punchcards. The banner reads “8 Hours Labour”—a reference to the 8 Hour Day Movement dating back to Britain Industrial Revolution. Every out-of-place stitch is an hour worked outside of the time allotted for labor.

The Data as Culture curator, Shiri Shalmy, told Vice that she wanted everything to be physical. The Public Expenditure Riding Machine, for example, is a bike seat that bucks when the Bristol Council spends more than £500.

“You can sit on it and feel how your money’s being spent,” Shalmy told Vice.

The riding machine is part of a series of objects called Invisible Airs by the artistic duo YoHa, which is described and explained in the video below.

Also on display are a series of prints by James Bridle called “Watching the Watchers,” images of military drone bases captured by Google Earth satellites.

A video installation interprets the Afghan War Diary—war reports from Afghanistan released by WikiLeaks in 2010—through different sets of data analyses.

The first Data as Culture program reached more than 100,000 people around the world, with more than 3,000 interacting directly from the ODI office, where the works were displayed.

The hope is that the current iteration will further expand its reach by staging events in cities outside of London.

Data as Culture 2014 is a partnership between the ODI, the Brighton-based digital culture agency Lighthouse and the Manchester-based digital culture hub FutureEverything.

Personal Democracy Media is grateful to the Omidyar Network and the UN Foundation for their generous support of techPresident's WeGov section.

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