Living in a data world and the role of art as metadata

Research output: Contribution to conferencePaper


Systems and models increasingly structure and define every aspect of society from social interactions, to understanding the economy and environment. Where once it was left to subject professionals to interpret and explain the data generated there has been a move to share the data to be interrogated by anyone.
This can be understood in two ways. Firstly, in deterministic terms, technical advances have allowed and encouraged a broader access to data. Secondly, there has been a justification in philosophical terms to disengage the data from the original author’s intention, as described by Roland Barthes. This paper discusses the potential problems arising from an un-curated access to data, before developing an argument for the role of art in dealing with data. The paper discusses the heritage Systems Science and Conceptual Art share in Cybernetics, and why art has struggled to deal with data in a meaningful way,
due in part to a disengagement with Aesthetics and a reliance on material novelty and cultural parody.
The paper concludes by addressing the issues of authorship and aesthetics in data visualization directly and proposes a role for art as a vehicle for metadata that mediates our relationship to an increasingly data driven world.


  • Contemporary art
  • Data visualisation
  • Complexity


Dive into the research topics of 'Living in a data world and the role of art as metadata'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this