Data Stories @ Cent Quatre, Paris

“It was really inspiring to see all the other STARTS projects and to network with the other artists and scientists.”

At the beginning of March, Data Stories travelled to the Cent Quatre Cultural Centre in Paris, France, for the Starts Residency Days, the final presentation of all 45 collaborations between artists and technologists created during the course of the STARTS Residency program. Over the course of three days there were talks, roundtable discussions, live demonstrations, gallery exhibitions, and interactive workshops, that all showcased the interplay of creativity and technology encouraged and facilitated by the residency program.

Alongside Data Stories, FastFamiliar (formerly fanShen), hosted a workshop session that gave members of the public a taste of the Smoking Gun project, in a multi-lingual setting (translated live, in real-time). The audience was invited to take part in an hour’s “taster session” of the final theatrical artwork (which will run over the course of a full week), and review a portion of the evidence, data, and puzzles that make up the experience.

Following the demonstration of Smoking Gun, the floor was opened to audience questions, which began a number of interesting discussion areas. One audience member was curious about how different sections of the audience (and the public at-large) perceived the idea of data, sparking a discussion on “What is it that the audience does (or should) understand when we talk about the concept of “data”? (which neatly tied into the previous work Data Stories has undertaken in this area with the Tribes, Treasure Hunts, and Truth-Seekers project). Another participant was curious about the future of the project and the artwork; Rachel Briscoe (lead artist at FastFamiliar) described how – using the Smoking Gun experience as a base – the technology used in the project could be extended to tell any number of data stories, and could even be used in an industrial context to, for example, run training sessions that encourage people to think about how they manage their data, and what data about them might be being exposed without their knowledge.

Dan Barnard, also lead artist at FastFamiliar, said: “It was really inspiring to see all the other STARTS projects and to network with the other artists and scientists. We also found the event really useful in terms of thinking about how to create multi lingual versions of Smoking Gun”.

Over the weekend, we were also able to explore some of the other amazing art pieces that resulted from this collaboration, which ranged from wearable neural networks that encouraged participants to consider what it might like to be an artificial intelligence (Artificial Intelligence and its false lies – Mika Satomi and the CONFIRM Research Center), to 3D printed organs which advocated reflection on human evolution and how this may be helped (or hindered) through embracing technology (Embryonic – Valeria Abendroth in collaboration with the 3D Prime Project).

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