MAKING DATA FELT is a research-creation project of experimental data visualization/data materialization, designed to explore the affective dimensions of statistical information. The project appropriates low-cost DIY ‘maker tools’ (such as laser engravers, 3D printers, and thermal printers) for the creation of open-source data visualization solutions that allow research-practitioners to ‘make data felt’ by highlighting the social, political, and ethical stakes that are often overlooked in statistical information.

The project asks how we can translate impenetrable statistical information back into meaningful affective experiences. Dr. Zeilinger's visualization experiments will yield aesthetic artifacts built from statistical data that is otherwise presumed to be disembodied, alienating, and impersonal. MAKING DATA FELT foregrounds the critical, cultural, and social stakes encoded in such data, and plays with the reversal of the obfuscatory, dehumanizing effects of numerically encoded statistics.

The first iteration of the project mines publicly available data regarding the time/place/duration/intensity of the 2014 aerial bombardments of the Gaza Strip, and uses a custom-made laser engraver to etch the data points into paper maps of the region, partially destroying the maps in the process. The installation thus ‘performs’ a tangible and emotionally charged reenactment of the destruction encoded in the statistical information, and lends a body, shape, duration, and smell to the otherwise faceless data.

Making Data Felt Image 1
Making Data Felt Image 1
Thursday, February 5, 2015 - 9:15pm
Lab Member: 
Dr. Martin Zeilinger