What do people do all day?
An annotated bibliography
The use of archival materials to document and explore personal and often domestic issues and events characterises my practice. I use traditional materials and methodologies with newer, technologically rooted, approaches. I am now interested in the visual communication possibilities of socio economic data interpretation. I intend to extend my analysis beyond the self and consider a wider social purview. I am particularly interested in the possibilities of artistic interpretation of contemporary and extrapolated social patterns of work and existence in the face of advancing automation. I would like to be able to produce a visual representation of the flow of these ‘post capitalism’ human activities – create a truly modern landscape.
(no date) HINT.FM / Fernanda Viegas & Martin Wattenberg. Available at: http://hint.fm (Accessed: 10November2018).
These artists’ practice centres on the visual representation of large data sets, whether they be wind patterns across America or geographically sorted adjectives used in dating site profiles. They joined Google as co-leaders of the Big Data Vizualisation group in 2010 and have published well regarded books and essays on the subject. As such, their work is credible and a good reference point for me. Their website has a wide range of their work together with a blog that illuminates the thinking behind each piece. The examples clearly show the link between data and a landscape-like presentation. In particular the richness of their Wind Map project has shown me the possibilities for my project. They show that data analysis does not have to be static, boring or ugly.
(2015) ReForm | Data Becomes Art In Immersive Visualizations. Vice. Available at: https://www.vice.com/en_uk/article/8qv5wg/video-data-becomes-art-in-immersive-visualizations (Accessed: 10November2018).
Issued by the VICE Media group, an influential new media business based in North America. Creators is the VICE Arts and Culture channel. ReForm was a series of videos published on Creators.
This video provides a succinct accessible overview of generative art and specifically art using so called ‘big data’. Academic research is also referenced in the interview segments with Kate Crawford (see separate entry). This video was helpful because it gave good examples of work being made that relates to my goals, a sense of the theoretical issues involved in contemporary generative art projects and a number of links to follow up on in order to enhance my own research.
Appleton, J. (1991) The Symbolism of Habitat. University of Washington Press.
The author was the Emeritus Professor of Geography at the University of Hull and was considered to have played a large role in opening up the discipline of geography to more aesthetic methodologies and interpretations.
In this book Appleton argues that landscapes are filled with symbolism that has historically been drawn from a link with the natural environment but could just as easily be linked to human or animal behaviours within that environment. He considers the widening of what can and has influenced and contributed to landscape. The ideas discussed are fundamental in current landscape studies and so this book has a clear place in my research. Studying the aesthetic impact on landscape in this way has given me insights into how the data sets I could choose could then be interpreted and represented.
Crawford, K., Lingel, J. and Karppi, T. (2015) “Our metrics, ourselves: A hundred years of self-tracking from the weight scale to the wrist wearable device”. European Journal of Cultural Studies, 18(4-5), pp. 479-496. doi: 10.1177/1367549415584857.
Kate Crawford is a leading researcher at Microsoft, academic and author studying the social implications of data systems, machine learning and artificial intelligence. In the same way as archival materials have developed from written diaries to online multimedia journals, so personal data collection has developed. This paper considers the political, moral and social issues involved. I found this journal article very useful because it brought together the main questions around using personal data that I want to build into my landscape exploration. Crawford is a well respected voice in this area and her views are therefore useful to study.
Cosgrove, D. E. (1998) Social formation and symbolic landscape. Madison, Wis: Univ of Wisconsin Press.
Denis E. Cosgrove was an Alexander von Humboldt Professor of Geography at the University of California, Los Angeles, and before this between 1994 and 1999, Professor of Geography at Royal Holloway, University of London.
His book has long been considered a seminal text in geography. A collection of essays on the meaning of landscapes, studying the arguments put forward has allowed me to understand what landscapes have meant in geography, social history and art historically which is then informing the future possibilities I am considering. This book is theoretical and dense but it is worth the effort. In particular, the idea that there is a tension between the individual enjoyment of an external scene vs the collective creation of a scene through the passage of time and events.
Klein, J. (2013) Grayson Perry. Thames and Hudson.
Jackie Klein is an art historian and writer, formally a curator at the Hayward Gallery. Her book on Perry is a tour de force and despite its commercial appearance, provides a thoughtful catalogue of his work to date. My work is concerned with documenting current social strata and/or activities in an accessible manner. I have considered images made by generative art but I have also looked at Grayson Perry’s work in the context of communication. He has been able to project some very difficult subjects and messages into the mainstream extremely effectively. Kleins deconstruction of Perry’s motives and methodologies provides insight as I consider how I want to present my findings. The use of made domestic objects to project a message is an attractive route to me.
Landry, C. (2012) The Sensory Landscape of Cities. Stroud: Comedia.
The author is an international authority on the future of cities and the creative use of resources in urban revitalization. This slim publication summarizes Landry‘s research about the multi sensory experience of city living. He argues that when designing new cities one must take an ‘audit’ of the sensory landscape or character of the city. While this book is essentially directed at the urban planner or architect, the idea of using more than just the visual sense is an interesting one and is one I will consider when looking at the final form of landscape I want to produce.
McCandless, D. (2014) Knowledge is Beautiful. HarperCollins.
The author is a respected British data journalist and information designer. He runs a successful blog and his books on the visual communication of data have been critical and commercial hits and as such he is a credible source. This book shows how data could be presented to make it interesting, aesthetically appealing and informative. The author employs a wide range of approaches including graphs, tables, diagrams, maps. Part of the appeal of the book (which was a mainstream success) is the data itself – subjects covered are varied and spark the imagination. This is a valuable lesson I will take with me. This book is a great primer in the impact visual communication can have and as such is a core text for my work. One criticism however, is that there is little on the collection of the data itself nor its analysis.
Pearson, M. (2011) Generative art. Shelter Island, NY: Manning Publications.
Pearson is an artist, coder and award winning blogger to be found at zenbullets.com. He has also written another book on generative art and is well regarded in his oeuvre. This text is a guide to the nature and origins of generative art. The book is rich in ideas as Pearson has been a pioneer of this subject, but is also a practical guide including coding for DIY art projects. Of more use to me however, in the introduction of the concept of a tension between made forms (ie mechanical) and grown forms (ie natural). Since this echoes the duality discussed in Cosgrove’s text and the juxtaposition of message and made object employed by Perry, the ideas discussed by Pearson resonate with my practice. Its practical approach only adds to its relevance as I push back he boundaries of my work.
Scarry, R. (1979) Richard Scarry’s What do people do all day?. New York: Random House Books for Young Readers
Scarry was a world famous writer and illustrator of children’s books. This title is one of his most popular. It is the original inspiration for this project and a personal childhood favourite.
The book explains via examples of jobs and activities the concept of work and basic supply and demand economics. The clear text that accompanies the charming illustrations add up to a children’s book whose accessibility belies its complexities. The title is a direct question which the book answers only partially. Scarry imprints the validity of entrepreneurialism and lionises capitalism with no mention of social justice, equality or welfare models. Obviously a full socio-economic study is a tall order for a children’s book! It does however, provide an accessible and memorable entry point to more serious contemplation and research.