For Pennsylvania College of Art and Design's Spring 2017 exhibition series the College focuses on scientific and technologically inspired art work. The study of science and art narrated via cutting edge technology exemplifies our desire to know more about ourselves and our world.
The Quantified Self: The Data Doesn’t Lie features the thought-provoking artwork of two internationally renowned artists, Laurie Frick and Katie Lewis.
In this exhibition Frick and Lewis use data points derived from human actions as the foundation and inspiration for their work. The title hints at the duality of what is usually quantified, such as fluctuations in stress hormones or daily walking routines, while recognizing the existence of the nuanced, mysterious “self” which is largely unquantifiable. Yet it is through the creative process we get an analytical glimpse of not only the individual as told through data points but the multitude of systems that surround us.
Michelangelo said, “Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it.” So too do Lewis and Frick reveal our individual and collective portraits and patterns hidden in big data.
Lewis’ work is a poetic gesture open to interpretation. Lewis compiles data such as physical sensations in the body or the number of steps taken each day. She then creates forms of data visualization using materials such as paper, thread, sewing pins, or graphite. The labor intensive aspect of her artistic method reflects the meticulous data collecting process, consisting of physical repetitions within her self-imposed constraints. The controlled set of repeated actions eventually leads her system to reach a breaking point - paper tears or is eaten away, walls starts to crumble, and thread becomes an impenetrable net.
Frick translates personal data points into an expressive, yet orderly representations of an individual, utilizing the form of the grid to create a visual map. Patterns of behavior become patterned artworks and the mass of data serves to potentially predict an individual’s life while simultaneously providing a unique glimpse into one’s hidden personality. The viewer is ultimately offered a glimpse into the future of data...and of themselves.
Differing in their mediums, methods, and purpose, Lewis’ and Frick’s work inspires consideration of how big data can be translated through the creative process and examines what happens when big data comes to aesthetically represent the once mysterious and subjective “self”.