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    Live Demonstration of Using Big Data Sources in Artistic Practice

    Electronic Visualisation and the Arts (EVA 2017)

    London, UK, 11 - 13 July 2017


    Steven Aishman



    From algorithmic financial software that is driving the perceived value of human owned assets to personal medical data which is used to make national policy decisions, Big Data is beginning to effect more of human lives than ever before. However, Big Data and algorithms are not neutral. They shape behaviour primarily through their ability to conceal or reveal and subsequently, they shape how the world is perceived. Why are certain pieces of data collected, parsed, isolated, visualised and then distributed? Who gets to make decisions about how Big Data is used?

    This paper/demonstration explores the relationship between Big Data and the visual arts. While many Big Data sets are free and available for public use, the technical barrier to sourcing and then distilling Big Data sets into a useful form can be daunting to visual artists who may want to use the data for their own art. This demonstration will cover how to locate Big Data sources, parse the data, and use the data in an artistic visualisation. Specifically, the demonstration will use live astronomical data provided by NASA which will be accessed through NASA’s API. The demonstration will also show how to use a flexible programming language designed for visual arts, Processing, to parse and visualise the data. The demonstration does not require any experience with either Big Data or programming.


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