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We Need Us

December 2014 | By Julie Freeman


We Need Us asks questions about the purpose and nature of data, beyond their informational functions. Data artist Julie Freeman is interested in considering the specific qualities of open data and metadata once any ‘useful’ information that can be analysed and put to conclusive use has been discounted. The work appears as a mesmerising and thought-provoking animated environment with a multichannel soundtrack. The sounds and motion of the animated forms are generated Zooniverse ( data traffic. Julie’s hand-crafted algorithms use the rhythms of the data which she argues start to describe the physical parameters and ‘sense of life’ of the data which would otherwise be invisible and incomprehensible. Unlike traditional data visualisation which helps us understand and make sense of information held in large data sets, We Need Us investigates the unique properties of the data itself. It asks: if the data had lives of their own, how would they be revealed? ‘We Need Us’ is a living artwork, powered by people, and influenced by data. It is a live, online, animated artwork that explores both ‘life data’ and the life of data.