Manifest Data Lab

February 14, 2020 by  

In mid-February 2019, Professor Tom Corby (CSM) and Giles Lane (Proboscis/CSM) co-founded the Manifest Data Lab, a transdisciplinary research group based at Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London. The group also comprises Professor George Roussos (Birkbeck University of London), a long-time collaborator of Proboscis, and Dr Louise Sime (British Antarctic Survey) and formed to develop the 3 year AHRC-funded research project, “Materialising Data, Embodying Climate Change“.

Over the past year we have recruited a team of two Postgraduate Research Fellows: Dr Erin Dickson and Dr Jonathan Mackenzie; and two Visiting Research Fellows: Gavin Baily and Dr Rachel Jacobs. The team’s research has delved deeply into how data is collected, analysed and modelled for creating the Earth Systems Models for climate change, gaining understandings of the sheer complexity of data types and methods used to interpret the science of climate change. We are now beginning to identify what data sets to focus on for our materialisation experiments, and exploring techniques for identifying and extracting salient features from extremely large datasets using machine learning methods. This is intended to inform the processes by which we use climate data to drive the generation of 3D forms.

A corresponding materialisation research strand has focused on exploring techniques, materials and technologies that are effective and appropriate for working with data in multiple ways. From experimenting with polygon reduction in 3D printing in a range of materials, to slip casting clay vessels and dissolving them in solutions, to creating blown glass bell jars in a hot shop for mini-environments that scorch their contents as a metaphor for global warming.

In addition, MDL has developed a public engagement programme, Republic of Learning, alongside our research activities, which aims to engage a wide range of publics in creative and convivial processes beyond the confines of academia. We have partnered with CSM’s public MAKE programme to host our events in the Story Garden community space in Somers Town, London.

In 2020 we are developing an exciting body of work that we hope to launch around the time of the COP26 climate meeting in Glasgow – one which we hope will draw together the many strands that we have been working on and which will fulfill our goal of exploring how artistic practices and the materialisation of climate data can provide empathic encounters and stimulate new ways for people to engage with the impacts and consequences of climate change.

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