Unfolding data through Little Earths
Updated: Jul 18
One of the core principles of our project is that data can be employed to operate culturally in ways that free it from functional analysis and formalised visualisation approaches. We stress the situatedness (Haraway, 1988) of data as a means to engender social ties and bring awareness of the intersectional and material complexity hidden in mainstream data discourses (D’Ignazio and Klein, 2020); a particularly acute issue in respect of climate change as noted by TJ Demos (2020). In our Little Earths project we explore the mobility and relational potential of climate data to prompt cultures of care and sensitivity to the changing environment. In doing so we conflate concepts of “uncertainty” (for example pertaining to climate model projections) with “fragility” as part of developing new languages arising from artistic practices for coping with complexity and change.
The Little Earths are 3D models derived from bathymetry data that integrates land topography including "Ice Surface" (Antarctic and Greenland top lying ice) and "bedrock" (base ice). The materials used for our prototypes use plant-based filaments (including seaweed) and are a sustainable source but we are also exploring the use of more fragile materials including glass or ceramics.
The Little Earths will be offered to politicians and policy makers over an extended time period who will be tasked to carry them on a daily basis. Custodians will be required to document their reflections in diary form as an affirmation of the conscious care they need to demonstrate for the planet. The project shows how climate data can be distributed ‘in the wild’ tenderly, as a mobile and social form operative relationally outside of normative contexts of knowledge production and dissemination.
T. J. Demos T.J. (2020), “Extinction Rebellions”. In Afterimage 1 June 2020; 47 (2): pp 14–20. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/aft.2020.472004
D’Ignazio C. and Klein, L.F. (2020), Data Feminism, Cambridge, Mass. MIT Press.
Haraway, D. (1988), “Situated Knowledges: The Science Question in Feminism and the Privilege of Partial Perspective”. In Feminist Studies, Vol. 14, No. 3 (Autumn), pp. 575-599.