"1, 2, 3 data", with this new exhibition, the EDF Group Foundation continues to explore the new creative universes between science, art and design. For the first time in France, some forty data designers are presenting their work. They all share the same creative material: "data", the billions of pieces of data circulating around the world today. An inexhaustible resource that lends itself to all modes of processing and expression, for spectacular, poetic, relevant and unexpected effects. Until 6 October 2018.
Conviating the public to discover the very process of data design, David Bihanic, curator of the exhibition, has selected productions for certain "classics", emblematic works, such as "Tele-Present Water" by David Bowen: a suspended wire mesh translates the oscillations of a micro-patch in the Pacific, based on data retrieved in real time by a buoy. Alongside artistic installations, there are some impressive (and less "classic") projects such as "Multiplicy, produced by one of the great international figures of data design, Moritz Stefaner, who takes the pulse of the Paris region by making visible all the images posted on Instagram.
David Bowen's work "Tele-Present water".
"Bringing data design out of the closet."
Data design is not new, it has developed over the last twenty years or so, driven by the demands of the media and the development of digital tools of all kinds. The time had come to make these innovative, audacious and still too confidential practices accessible, as David Bihanic points out: "The actors are now numerous and varied (agencies, studios, integrated designers, etc.), and their productions are proliferating. It was becoming urgent to make them visible to the general public (especially in France) and thereby break with some of the persistent preconceptions about the value and usefulness of data.
Work by Moritz Stefaner, "Multiplicy".
Data designers: the new explorers of our world
David Bowen, Moritz Stefaner, the Domestic Data Streamers collective, the Periscopic agency... who are these creators in touch with the data of our world, with the flows that flood social networks? Unknown to the general public (for several of them), they constitute a community without borders with a strong American presence (nearly half of the works presented), reflecting the dynamism of this sector in the United States. Experts in algorithms and multidisciplinary creators, data designers work in networks or agencies. Their projects respond to commissions from companies, institutions or explorations, or even more personal commitments. For some, they are the heirs of graphic designers, but their medium is only occasionally paper. Explorers of a globalized world, they make legible whole sections of our reality, whether it be climate, biodiversity, migration, social inequalities... or give us a glimpse of the inflation of data on social networks.
The same creative material: "data".
Digital tools generate them exponentially, they abound, they break out, they accumulate in gigantic data centers, they are present without being really familiar to us, we produce and use them without knowing it and we share them, voluntarily or not. The term "data" encompasses data of very different kinds: stored data or real-time flows, private data resulting from specific studies, institutional data, "open data" accessible to all and encoded, invisible, unreadable data. Data designers take them over, select them in a specific way or shuffle huge quantities of them, and in the end put them back in their right place. Far from the anxiety-provoking image of "data" - the world's great computers or the obscure mechanisms of our digital life - data constitute a substrate that can produce meaning. It is a windfall of infinite potential, the mirror of today's world and the breeding ground for artificial intelligence for tomorrow...
The exhibition gives a good overview of the diversity and richness of the modes of expression that characterize the practices of data designers. What do they bring? The relevance of visual and graphic solutions to translate and make attractive data from a wide variety of fields. They track abundance, difference and movement. Transformed into points, lines, panoramic projections, cartographic animations, real sculptures... data is first to be seen. Art and design invite themselves in. Aesthetic pleasure is nourished by the originality and inventiveness of the layouts, then the mind takes hold of the content for another reading or for interactive involvement.
A meeting in three stages
Starting with the most artistic works, presented on the ground floor, and ending with more conceptual projects, the scenography leads the visitor through the two levels of the Foundation. The works are arranged according to a fluid itinerary, in three stages: EXHIBITORY DESIGN (EXHIBITOR) - EXPLANATORY DESIGN (EXPLIQUER), corresponding to three types of approach : some designers take data as a creative material in the full sense of the word, an invisible motor generating forms; others take data seriously as a primary source for a renewed knowledge of the world; and finally some experiment with the functional potential of new tools, tracking down in "open data" the cultural variants of the world.
Commissioner David Bihanic
Scenography : Trafik (agency co-founded and directed by Pierre and Joël Rodière)
Fondation EDF - 6, rue Récamier Paris 7° - Exhibition until October 6, 2018