Data Disinformation

The panel seeks to investigate and revisit the political role that art can play in subverting standardised visual form and language.
Thursday, 15 September, 2011 - 09:00 - 10:30
Chair Person: 
Helen Sloan
Vicky Isley
Paul Smith
Susan Collins
David Cotterrell
Sigune Hamann
Susan Sloan

Chair: Helen Sloan

Data manipulation and visualisation contributes to a large part of contemporary digital arts practice. A tendency to separate out framework/platform and content has meant that analysis of the material of visual forms that arise from artistic processes can be overlooked. This panel examines diverse approaches to the manipulation and visualisation of data appropriated by visual artists. While the works presented by the panellists are not overtly political, there is a strong presence of challenge to the visual tropes used by those engaged in production in an industry context such as film, gaming, journalism and marketing.  The panel seeks to investigate and revisit the political role that art can play in subverting standardised visual form and language.

Panellists will be drawn from artists in the concurrent Broken Stillness exhibition at ISEA, who are interrogating the relationship between historically embedded forms of image making, especially painting and photography, with those digital practices that are still in development or relatively unexplored such as computer animation, motion capture/tracking, modelling software and high definition.  The work presented and the panelists will explore the new forms that are emerging from an in depth exploration of digital tools combined with an understanding of more established forms of imagemaking in the visual arts. Beyond the concentration of the digital on speed, collectivism and bandwidth in much digital work, the panel will call for a subtle approach to making work.

Paper Abstracts

Wet Paint

by Vicky Isley and Paul Smith

Boredomresearch explore the natural progression from static imagery allowed by recursive technologies which enable data to remain liquid. The artists Vicky Isley and Paul Smith often think of themselves as employing computer gaming technology to create landscape paintings and life studies that move. These artworks unfold in real time enabling viewers to be continually surprised by every changing forms and sounds. Using computational technology to explore diversity boredomresearch often use techniques similar to those used by scientists. By simulating natural patterns and behaviours boredomresearch create new intricate forms and compositions of intrigue and beauty. In this paper the artists will discuss their computational systems which manipulate data chunks to produce a diversity of moving images.

Here and There

by Dr. Susan Collins

Susan Collins’s landscape works exist as archives of images or real-time presentations of images gathered from pointing a webcam at a location over a period of months to show images on screen generated by changing pixel by pixel over about 21 hours in a day. This work provides a timeframe as well as an in-depth study of a single landscape. Presented on the screen in landscape format the artist introduces representation of time showing simultaneously day and night views of the same scene studied and recorded over the course of the year.  This paper will show how the manipulation of data can introduce new devices and language to the tradition of representation of landscape.

Other Readings

by Prof. David Cotterrell

After a residency in Helmand Province, Afghanistan, artist David Cotterrell experimented in subverting the hierarchy of documentary materials as exemplified in imagery of the representation of war.  His particular concern was around the way in which images and ideas about communities, landscape and history have been mediated in the representation of conflct.  More recently, Cotterrell has been incorporating a concern for the complexity of the issues presented by war that are often absent in media representation.

This paper will explore mechanisms to challenge the most appropriated formats of narrative visualisation in order to question the validity of authoritative views. He will discuss how his work begins to transcend the representation of war to explore in constructed contexts the process of mediation and our complicit relationship with the screen. Through an interest in paranoia and dislocation he extrapolates existing commonplace conventions in documentary/journalistic photography and moving image, painting, cinematic, literary, simulation and gaming constructs. By shifting the context, questioning the authority of the content and by testing the limitations of the technology, Cotterrell seeks to create an environment that challenges our confident belief in our understanding of the extent of narrative vocabularies in documentary. By experimentally exploring the limitations and points of failure of modes of communication and data visualisation, Cotterrell seeks to shift critical focus from the mediated spectacle to the medium of communication itself.

Seamlessness in the Analogue and Digital

by Sigune Hamann

Sigune Hamann will present her work on representation of movement, time and narrative structure through image manipulation with a focus on her process of capturing the dynamics of urban environments in panoramic film-strips. Examples include ‘Whitehall 9.12.2010’ showing at this year’s ISEA exhibition.  Her work is hands-on image manipulation involving the capture of film-strips as a real or physical process, a mechanical one, but also subsequently a photochemical and digital transformation.

The paper will examine shifts of information and layering, repetition and blurring of images as they happen in the initial mechanical process and in the following digital output. These kinds of displacements draw attention to how we experience images, how we make sense of them, and how they relate to our memories.  She will demonstrate the decisions made by an artist in controlling the relationship between the digital and analogue through the process of making and showing work.

Cleaning and Character in Motion Capture Portraits

by Susan Sloan

Susan Sloan has researched extensively the use of motion capture in animation associated with gaming and special effects. In this paper she will focus on the post production ‘cleaning’ process erasing glitches in movement comparing her aim to show signature gesture and character in her subjects in contrast to the stylized movement associated with industry technigques. Susan Sloan is able to develop the language of portraiture and likeness through image and movement.  Analogous to traditional notions of portraiture, drawn or painted, at the core of these animations is a representation of the sitter.  She will explore these portraits which are produced within the context of painting, animation, video and sculpture.  They draw from all of these practices and whilst entirely constructed in 3D software the motion of the subject is recorded from real life. The works become a record and an interpretation at the same time. The relationship between the recorded data and manually animated and sculpted forms becomes significant. The portraits are not just an interpretation of the external visible characteristics of the sitter but also a document of their existence.

Bios of the Participants

Vicky Isley and Paul Smith

Vicky Isley and Paul Smith have been collaborating as boredomresearch since 2000. They are internationally renowned for creating software driven art, highly aesthetic both visually and acoustically. Their artworks are inspired by the diversity that exists in nature - simulating natural patterns and behaviours they create new intricate forms and compositions within interactive and public artworks, online environments and generative objects. Their artwork has been awarded an honorary mention in Transmediale.05, Berlin (2005) and VIDA 7.0 Art & Artificial Life International Competition, Madrid (2004).


Boredomresearch’s artwork has been widely exhibited internationally their recent exhibitions include KUMU Art Museum, Tallinn (2011); [DAM]Cologne (2011); Today Art Museum, Beijing (2010); Laboral, Gijon (2010); MAXXI, Rome (2010); iMal, Brussels (2008) and Instituto Itaú Cultural, São Paulo (2008).The artists are represented by [DAM]Berlin/Cologne and are ArtSway Associates, and you can find their artwork in many collections including the British Council’s. They are both currently Research Lecturers at the National Centre for Computer Animation, Bournemouth University UK

Susan Collins

Susan Collins is one of the UK’s leading artists working with digital media. Collins works across public, gallery and online spaces. Her recent works mainly employ transmission, networking and time as primary materials, often exploring the role of illusion or belief in their construction and interpretation. Colllins has exhibited internationally and works include In Conversation; Tate in Space (a bafta nominated Tate netart commission); Transporting Skies which transported sky (and other phenomena) live between Newlyn Art Gallery, Penzance in Cornwall and Site Gallery Sheffield in Yorkshire; and The Spectrascope, an ongoing live pixel by pixel transmission from a haunted house. In 2009 she exhibited Seascape , a solo show at the De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill-on-Sea, commissioned by Film and Video Umbrella and the De La Warr Pavilion and recently completed Love Brid, a short film for Animate Projects. Susan Collins is currently the Director of the Slade School of Fine Art, University College London where she established the Slade Centre for Electronic Media in Fine Art (SCEMFA) in 1995.

David Cotterrell

David Cotterrell is an installation artist working across varied media including video, audio, interactive media, artificial intelligence, device control and hybrid technology. His work exhibits political, social and behavioural analyses of the environments and contexts, which he and his work inhabit. Over the last ten years, his work has been extensively commissioned and exhibited in North America, Europe and the Far East, in gallery spaces, museums and within the public realm. Recent exhibitions include: Eastern Standard: Western Artists in China at MASS MoCA, Massachusetts, War and Medicine at the Wellcome Collection, London and Map Games at the Today Museum of Modern Art, Beijing and Birmingham City Art Gallery. He is Professor of Fine Art at Sheffield Hallam University and has been a consultant to strategic masterplans, cultural and public art policy for urban regeneration, healthcare and growth areas. He is represented by Danielle Arnaud contemporary art and is currently researching and developing new work with advanced simulation company Rockwell Collins, with the support of an Arts Council England fellowship.

Sigune Hamann

Sigune Hamann is an artist who deals with still and moving images. This encompasses hybrid media forms combining analogue and digital processes. She explores the effects of time and perception on the construction of mental images in photographs, videos, installations and internet works. Projects include: the online narrative nothingbutthetruth (2002); photographic film-strips (Harris Museum, Preston 2005, Gallery of Photography, Dublin 2008, Kunsthalle Mainz 2008, Salisbury Art Centre 2011) and the video installations Dinnerfor1 (British Council Berlin 2005) and the walking up and down bit (BFI 2009). Part of her ongoing project inspired by the gesture of waving, she is currently working on an installation showing at the Wellcome Collections later this year.  Born in Frankfurt am Main, Germany Sigune Hamann graduated from the UdK Berlin, then RCA London and is a Senior Lecturer at Camberwell College of Arts, London.

Helen Sloan

SCAN, Helen Sloan (Chair)  has been Director of SCAN, Digital and Interdisciplinary Arts Agency since its launch in 2003. SCAN is a networked organization and creative development agency working on arts projects and strategic initiatives in arts organisations, academic institutions and further aspects of the public realm. Helen's career spans over twenty years during which she has curated, commissioned and convened over 200 exhibitions, new works, and events. She has written and researched a number of key strands in digital arts including wearable technologies, the intersection between art and science, and arts policy. She has directed festivals such as Across Two Cultures in Newcastle 1996 (an early event on the overlapping practice of creative thinking in arts and science), Metapod, Birmingham 2001 - 2, and  Public Domain, Bournemouth 2010. Current areas of interest digital arts and place; high-speed networks and online resources/spaces; models of practice and the creative economy; and data visualization.

Susan Sloan

Susan Sloan is a Lecturer and Research Fellow at the National Centre for Computer Animation, Bournemouth University. She works collaboratively and individually, using animation to create artworks and public projects; including her ongoing study into portraiture that utilises 3D animation software and motion capture technologies, to look at identity through motion and action. Her work has been shown nationally and internationally including the SIGGRAPH Gallery, San Diego; 404 Festival, Argentina; IVO3 London; IVO6, London, Sydney; Kunstihoone Gallery, Tallinn, Estonia; Yokohama Art Museum, Japan; and Glasgow International Festival