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The University of Richmond Museums exhibited Crooked Data: (Mis)Information in Contemporary Art on February 9 through May 5, 2017, in the Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art. The exhibition features art by twenty-one contemporary artists and studios who work with data in nontraditional ways. Some artists incorporate data from known sources, using it as an aesthetic device divorced from its originally intended interpretive function. Others gather and manifest data that might normally be considered not worthy of collecting. And some of the works explore alternatives to standard data visualization forms and practices.
Some of the works featured in Crooked Data include a selection from R. Luke DeBois’ series A More Perfect Union, in which the artist presents maps of states, replacing the names of cities and towns with the most frequently used words from residents’ online dating profiles that are unique to that region. For example, in the map of Virginia, the city of Richmond and local towns are represented by the words “tobacco,” “reasonable,” and northern Virginia, not surprisingly, is denoted by the words “Pentagon,” “diplomat,” and “beltway.”
Other works in the exhibition include Blast Theory’s app Karen which features a pseudo life coach who provides personalized personality profiles based on user input. Nathalie Miebach translates science data into sculpture, installation, and musical scores. In the series Wars and Conflicts, Dan Mills uses vintage maps as a space to investigate global data on international tensions, conflicts, and refugee statistics. Clement Valla reproduces Google Earth images that reveal anomalies within the system, images that are correctly formed with the data used by the software but are incorrect in accurately depicting their subjects.
Artists included in the exhibition:
- William Anastasi (American, born 1933)
- Blast Theory (British Artists group)
- David Bowen (American, born 1975)
- Martin Brief (American, born 1966)
- Stephen Cartwright (American, born 1972)
- Jax de León (American, born 1986)
- R. Luke DuBois (American, born 1970)
- Hasan Elahi (American, born in Bangladesh, 1972)
- Laurie Frick (American, born 1955)
- Chad Hagen (American, born 1970)
- Holly Hanessian (American, born 1958)
- Tiffany Holmes (American, born 1968)
- Brooke Inman (American, born 1983)
- Nathalie Miebach (American, born 1972)
- Dan Mills (American, born 1956)
- Casey Reas (American, born 1972)
- Ward Shelley (American, born 1950)
- Sosolimited (American design studio)
- Stamen Design (American data visualization practice)
- Clement Valla (American, born 1979)
- Lee Walton (American, born 1974)
The exhibition included an artwork created by University of Richmond students enrolled in the fall 2016 Introduction to Printmaking class, taught by Brooke Inman, Adjunct Professor, Department of Art and Art History, University of Richmond. Their screen-printed mural consists of data derived from usage statistics from the University’s Weinstein Center for Recreation and Wellness.
Digital America, an online journal on digital culture and art, will be featured three art works in conjunction with the Crooked Data exhibition on its website (www.digitalamerica.org). Each piece in the online gallery explores the deceptive nature of digital data through various digital media. Digital America is supported by the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Richmond.
Organized by the University of Richmond Museums, the exhibition is curated by N. Elizabeth Schlatter, Deputy Director and Curator of Exhibitions, University Museums. It is presented in cooperation with the University’s Departments of Art and Art History, Geography and the Environment, Boatwright Memorial Library, the Digital Scholarship Lab, Recreation and Wellness, and Partners in the Arts. The exhibition and programs are made possible in part by the University’s Cultural Affairs Committee, Data Blueprint, and funds from the Louis S. Booth Arts Fund. The exhibition is accompanied by an online catalogue featuring works in the exhibition and interviews conducted by Elizabeth Schlatter and Lindsay Hamm, ’17, art conservation (interdisciplinary studies) major, University of Richmond.
Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, University of Richmond Museums
Art Exhibition, University of Richmond, Crooked Data
Schlatter, N. Elizabeth. "Crooked Data: (Mis)Information in Contemporary Art." Richmond, Virginia: Joel and Lila Harnett Museum of Art, University of Richmond Museums, 2017.