Arts Design & Architecture

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  • (2022) Wozniak OConnor, Vaughan
    This practice-led research project examines the role of site specificity in self-tracking data artworks and installations. I argue that the site-specific contexts of materials and devices used in the physicalisation of self-tracking data (whether in art works or data visualisations) are timely objects of inquiry. In contemporary site-specific installation art, the artwork emerges as a response to complex contexts. Similarly, self-tracking data itself is shaped by a relationship to site – for example, the data recording a specific running route through a neighbourhood. This research proposes that site-specific art practice serves as a way of bringing the contextual aspects of self-tracking data physicalisation into explicit focus. As such, I propose the term data installation for describing an approach to rendering self-tracking that brings into relation data, the exhibition site and materials within installation-based artworks. Through the exhibition of self-tracking data in data installations and artworks, my practice-based research analyses the aesthetic choices of data physicalisation, the relation between physical sites and data, and the site-specific and historical aspects of materials. The project asks how specific exhibition sites and institutional contexts shape the production and display of self-tracking data artworks and installations in response to rapidly changing context of contemporary art. Drawing from feminist critiques of the assumed neutrality and objectivity of technology, my practice-based research focusses on the site-specific aspects of materials within artistic data physicalisation. Feminist critiques of technology emphasise the embodied aspects of knowledge production and the historical, social, cultural contexts that shape the use and production of emerging technologies. The central claim of this project, made through a body of nine artworks across five exhibitions and this accompanying thesis, is that site-specific installation practice serves as a way of situating self-tracking data artworks within the contexts of critical data studies and contemporary art. By bringing materials from a specific site into contact with data from the same site, the project demonstrates how data is situated within specific (and contingent) geographic, historical and temporal conditions. This situated approach to the rendering of self-tracking data acknowledges the relation between site and data, foregrounding the specific aesthetic choices and point of view embedded within self-tracking data art, and in the practice of data physicalisation more broadly.