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12 Mar 2012

Data is political: a symposium on art, design and information politics at the Bergen National Academy of Art & Design

Metahaven, WikiLeaks Collateral Murder t-shirt, 2011
T-shirts and scarves auctioned by Wikileaks as a fundraising effort.

Data Is Political: a symposium on art, design and information politics
Bergen National Academy of Art & Design


Date: March 15, 2012 Time: 10am to 6pm Location: Bergen Public Library

Amber Frid-Jimenez
+1 778 788 5853

Bergen National Academy of Art & Design
Strømgaten 1
5015 Bergen

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The Bergen National Academy of Art & Design presents Data Is Political, a symposium examining the relationship between art, design, and the politics of information. The event brings together artists, designers and scientists to discuss such questions as: What are the aesthetic, ethical and spatial dimensions of information and its relation to power, the production of knowledge, and the construction of urban spaces? Speakers include Philippe Rekacewicz, Peter Sunde, Nomeda & Gediminas Urbonas, Max Van Kleek, and Daniel van der Velden with contributions from Steve Dixon, Michelle Teran, and Jill Walker Rettberg. The event is organized by Amber Frid-Jimenez and Ben Dalton.

Data Is Political will be held from 10am to 6pm on March 15, 2012 at the Bergen Public Library and will be followed by a reception at ROM8 Gallery in conjunction with On Balance, an exhibition by Ellen Røed and Christian Blom. Please visit for a full program and a link to a live video stream of the event.

Radical increases in computing power and speed together with the rhetoric of openness and organizational transparency have led to a desire to read, visualize and make sense of vast and expanding archives of digital information from financial data and government documents to global sporting events and personal video collections. Corporations storing unprecedented archives of data on their servers have called on artists and designer to lead efforts to visualize this information, producing new opportunities for designers to use their skills on problems of seductive complexity. Often such initiatives are framed as promoting the public good. But the act of storing, structuring, manipulating, visualizing and distributing can both reveal and conceal the underlying structures and global networks to which the data refers. Far from value neutral, the act of visualizing information occurs within a complex and contentious field of competing agendas. Simply put, data is political.

Over the past fifty years, artists and designers have developed tactics that explore, remix and interrogate cultural archives as products of carefully constructed, state controlled systems of knowledge. Artists and politicians understand the value of these knowledge productions and use them as opportunities to challenge the organization of-- the rules of access to-- and methods of distribution of this cultural data. This symposium will bring together artists, designers, engineers and political scientists who have developed critical practices related to information and the politics that they produce. The symposium asks: How does the scale of expanding databases affect the creative practices of artists and designers working within public or private sectors? What strategies do designers and artists use to negotiate the competing aims of agencies with a stake in the information that is represented?

The Data Is Political symposium is accompanied by a growing archive of recorded conversations with artists, designers, and scientists including contributions from Ron Burnett, Amanda Cox, Philip DeCamp, Usman Haque, Benjamin Mako Hill, Francis Irving, Marcell Mars, Dietmar Offenhuber, Casey Reas, Florian Schneider, Fernanda Viegas & Martin Wattenberg, Jose Luis De Vicente, and Jeff Warren.

Data Is Political
is developed as an interdisciplinary event at the Bergen National Academy of Art & Design in collaboration with the Jan van Eyck Academie, and the University of Bergen. The symposium has received generous support from the Verdikt programme of the Norges Forskningsråd, the KHIB Research Council, and the KHIB departments of Design and Fine Art.