Artists Bring Data to Life in “Dataism” Exhibition

By Janet Langsam, CEO, ArtsWestchester

The difference between “artists”and “scientists” can be deceiving. In fact, they are more alike than one would imagine. Both are engaged in modes of inquiry in which the process matters as much as the product.  Similarities are even greater between artists and data scientists as both are searching for patterns and telling stories.  Dataism, ArtsWestchester’s newest exhibition, features the work of 13 New York area artists who use data as points of entry into areas as  humdrum as daily activities and social interactions, or as global as climate change, financial markets, privacy and surveillance, and political and social power.

In the age of the algorithm, every facet of our lives, from whom we date, to the news we read is shaped by a formula driven by data — data we knowingly or remotely provide. From an ATM transaction to signing an online petition, an Instagram post to a Google search, our daily interactions and behavioral choices are transformed into data points that are collected and stored by unknown sources.

Like scientists, many contemporary artists also anchor their work in the collection and shaping of data: to engage with this ubiquitous artifact of daily life, probe present realities, and imagine the future.  Some of the artists in the exhibition present data through handcrafted works and recognizably “artistic” procedures, such as drawing, collage, and sculptural assemblage. Other artists present their work on a computer screen. They share a determination to reclaim the mining and interpretation of data—“the material of our age,” in the words of Guest Curator, Lise Prown– as an illuminating and empowering cultural practice.

Dataism is on view at the ArtsWestchester Gallery in White Plains, NY through January 25. The exhibition is free and open to the public, and will be accompanied by a series of public programs.

Dataism is presented in collaboration with the Westchester Community College Center for the Digital Arts. It is made possible in part by an award from the National Endowment for the Arts. ArtsWestchester Gallery Hours: Tues.-Fri. 12-5pm; Sat. 12-6pm.

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