Datapoietic adventure: the beginning

REPORTAGE BY HERBERT NATTA

THE EXHIBIT

Imagine. A seaside city. A narrow bridge. A small island with an ancient fortress. And in the fortress a dark-wet cellar. And in the cellar a red-flashing…thing.

Its name is OBIETTIVO. The first datapoietic object. It looks like a man. A sleeping man: a human shape, laser-drawn on layered, transparent surfaces. It blazes, reddening the atmosphere with a sinister lure.
OBIETTIVO is not just a human-object lying down on a bench. Like a homeless. It is animated by DATA. It has a story to tell. Like a homeless. It receives DATA on poverty from different sources (United Nations, OECD, World Bank, etc.), translating them into red lightnings. The faster they are, the most rapidly humanity escapes from (stato di povertà estrema definito da “clock”1,8) poverty. Thus, it will blaze till poverty exist. knowledge.

THE WORKSHOP

7 hours, 17 different human beings, 3 groups. The task: imagine new datapoietic objects.

Imagine. People, attracted by a red-flashing object, wandering in the dark-wet space of an ancient fortress, connected, word-by-word, eye-by-eye, in a hidden social network, weaved by the Ariadne’s thread of DATAPOIESIS. It rains, and they start to (sin)create.

Many people have come, from different cities, to see OBIETTIVO. No one knew what it is. Just curiosity (passione, interessi di ricerca) has moved researchers, students, professionals, from different disciplines and backgrounds to celebrate the birth of DATAPOIESIS. Architects, designers, artists, philosophers, sociologists, data-scientists; 17 people around OBIETTIVO: looking, asking, noting, debating. Yes. DATAPOIESIS has born!

DEFINING DATAPOIESIS

if “poiesis” names the creative act to bring something into being; what if DATA generate the “poiesis”?
The ART sets the tone, kindly inviting SCIENCE(s) to outbreak their disciplinary walls and meet people. To open debates, to create new (social) awareness and knowledge, ART lets DATA flow into OBJECTS. And disseminates them in different contexts (public spaces, schools, hospitals, etc.); and lets them generate rituals and practices. A social invention around DATA: found, created, invented. But how can DATA affect human senses?
DATA are not objective countable things. They are debatable, subjective, ideological.
But… what if data miss ideology? They will tell the Truth? Or they will tell one truth. And miss the others. DATAPOIESIS does not aim to objectify DATA; on the contrary, it makes the doubt, the mediation, the negotiation as the condition of existence for datapoietic objects.

Using a series of three canvas designed for the project, each of the groups has chosen a general topic (climate change, happiness, wellness in a company), considering the possible related datasources and a real context where to let DATA exist, shaped by the physical, cultural, symbolic morphogenetic forces of a physical environment.

From these premises, the aim was to imagine a concept for a datapoietic object, to represent it (using the design fiction tecnique) and, finally, to tell the datapoietic process.

It has been hard, but fascinating. DATAPOIESIS has started to move from an idea, a word, a meaning, to an atmosphere, a process, a social invention. Looking for an object, the three groups have realized DATAPOIESIS as an experience in terms of negotiation of meanings, mediation, open debate and improvement of social knowledge.

No one knew what DATAPOIESIS was, but everyone contributed to what DATAPOIESIS is and will be.

The workshop has returned 3 ongoing projects:

“Sounds good” – Radiotherapy [Workplace wellness – Hospital]: a device to dedicate a song to people in the hospitals, with the aim of breaking the impersonal (and hyerarchic) relationships of the social system in this specific environment, encouraging empathy and reciprocal care. DATA: audio files, interactive liking, personal comments, emotions (sentiment analysis);

“CO2sDayClock” [Climate change – Public space]: a sculpture able to show (real time or once in the year) the level of global exceeding of CO2;

“Happy park” [Happiness – Public Space]: various devices that, comparing global and local data about parameters that can be connected with happyness (like social interactions, cleanliness, etc.), can encourage best practices to maintain high levels of happiness.

READ MORE ON VICE.COM, article by Riccarco Coluccini

THE TALK

Finally, the talk, about art and economy, have brought on the stage ideas, opinions, cultural references and best practices to imagine the future of Datapoiesis, speaking about the relationship between art, science and economy, considering the opportunities and implications, in terms of business development, of producing objects generated by data.

From the “Italian industrial humanism”, introduced by Antonio Calabrò, journalist and director of Pirelli Foundation, to the regeneration project of the Olivetti Factories, presented by Elena and Alberto Zambolin.

CONCLUSIONS

OBIETTIVO is a prototype: the first, but not unique datapoietic object. It will change its shape, it will move in different contexts, it will generate debates, opinions.

The three ideas emerged from the workshop and the thoughts discussed during the talk will contribute in defining the path of DATAPOIESIS. An open road that will continue in Ivrea, in November, at the Fabbriche ex Olivetti, with a new objective: the prototyping of the first set of datapoietic objects and the design of the business model for a start-up, that will produce and bring them to the market.

Follow our newsletter to get more information about Obiettivo trip and the DATAPOIESIS fall school.