The »Data Loam« project was conducted between March 2017 and May 2019 in a cooperation with the University of Applied Arts Vienna, the Royal College of Art in London, RIAT Vienna, as well as the Master’s programme Arts & Science. Data Loam is a PEEK project for the development and disclosure/interpretation/comp
Project director: Virgil Widrich
Responsible for the content: Johnny Golding and Martin Reinhart
DATA LOAM and the future of knowledge systems
The »Data Loam« project started with a number of simple and yet profound questions: “What is knowledge in the 21st century?”, “How is it generated an who owns, structures and governs it?”, “How can we be inclusive and avoid inherent bias already on an organizational level?“
By addressing these questions it first needed to comprehend and analyze the massive acceleration of information and its regimes of circulation, distribution, and preservation beyond the modern paradigm of indexicality. It took on the challenges created by the paradigm shift brought on new media, the technosphere, and profound advances in the sciences, but did so by place art-based research and practice at the core of the study. This enabled a refocussing, away from Cold War cybernetics and binary zero-sum methods. Rather than trying to compartmentalise, frame, cut-down, or force into silos or pockets of information, »Data Loam« foreground this exponential explosion of Big Data.
In order to do so and as one result, »Data Loam« had to articulate a new model capable to frame different fields of knowledge in a holistic way. In this way the theoretical concept of the “Mesh” was created – a compound of all the methodologies to generate a specific kind of knowledge as well as the topography in which it expresses its holdings. In this usage “Mesh” is not meant as a metaphor, but as kind of materiality or even corporeality. It is finite and yet open, fractal but without self-similarity. Although meshes often share similar properties and may as well overlap, some of them are closer related than others. The mesh of Medieval Scholastic for example might have little concord with Aeronautics, but still be entangled with Poetics.
As part of the »Data Loam« project we took this approach as far as to develop an algorithm to organize a collection of data in a way that its inherent mesh structures would express themselves. This method draws together patterns in order to begin to articulate dimensionality and, therewith, matter. It points to a new paradigm, one that we are naming »radical matter«. The method requires the fore-fronting of experiment, making, critical reflexivity and the logics of sense. This elegantly simple and accessible move has already shown an impact at the University level, where there has been a strong and significant number of new PHDs taking up this emergent methodology regarding the radicality of matter and its coincident requirements for proliferation, multiplicity, and groundless logics of cohesion.
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