Data Used for Visualizations In 2017
In September 2016, the Southern Alberta Art Gallery and the Data Physicalization Lab at the University of Lethbridge invited six artists to participate in a residency, documentary film, and exhibition that asked them to respond to agricultural data developed by Dr. Jamie Larson and Dr. Andre Laroche from the Lethbridge Research and Development Centre: Agriculture and Agri-food Canada. Two datasets were provided: The first is the result of an experiment on breeding cereal wheats and wheat grasses with the intention of developing a perennial wheat cultivar; the second relates to experimentation in genetic modification aimed at reducing wheat’s susceptibility to the devastating pathogen known as stripe rust. The artists were invited to engage with the instruments, test subjects, contexts, methods, and people associated with the development of this data, which they would later consider while creating new work for this exhibition. The aim of this endeavor is to investigate the effect of intensive collaboration – how artists can use scientific process to guide their art, and how scientists can use artistic ways of knowing to approach their data in new ways.
The artwork that emerges from this investigation explores the potential that lies within scientific inquiry when strict standards for fact and method are allowed to be considered and probed through an expanded perspective. Through this inquiry, the work is allowed to effectively engage viewers by evoking feelings of wonder, curiosity, and consciousness about data and agricultural research, while creating a place for contemplation about the land and our inherent connection to it.