ISEA2011 PANEL: FARFIELD2 The Data Landscapes of Climate Change

FARFIELD2: The Data Landscapes of Climate Change

Chair: Dr. Tom Corby
Co-Chair: Associate Professor Andrea Polli

In recent years the science and data of climate science has come under unprecedented public scrutiny. This politicization of climate data, whilst potentially dangerous, offers opportunities for us to re-think our relationships to science and develop discussion around interdisciplinary art/science approaches to our changing environment. In this spirit the panel will explore how climate data operates as a social and cultural phenomenon with creative affordances beyond normative scientific and institutional frames and practices. Panel members from artistic and scientific communities will present collaborative projects, theoretical elaborations and visual and sonic experimentations that explore the following questions:

o What data driven approaches to representing climate change in the arts exist; what are the future possibilities?
o What methodological and conceptual challenges do art/science collaborators using climate data confront?
o Are existing models of collaboration useful?
o How might artists navigate the opportunities and dangers faced by the use of climate data?
o What is the proper role of such work in the public discourses of climate change?


Climate Change: Embodying the Data
Annick Bureaud

For a vast majority of people, climate change remains largely abstract, perceptible only by its effects, by its symptoms, to use a medical vocabulary. Likewise, for a vast majority of people, scientific charts remain largely abstract and illegible. How can they be turned into a “graspable reality”? How can these data be brought into a familiar realm? They can be made familiar by providing a human scale to what is largely beyond human senses and means of appropriation, in ways that include a phenomenological component. This embodiment of data will be examined and discussed through a series of artworks relating to the Poles and the recent Lovely Weather artists-in-residence project in Ireland.

Systemness: Towards a Data Aesthetics of Climate Change
Tom Corby, Nathan Cunningham

Tom Corby and Nathan Cunningham will present work arising from their arts-science collaboration, exploring ways of representing carbon circulation in climate systems, the convergence-divergence effect in art-science collaborations and the aesthetics of climate models.

Sonifying Climate Data
Andrea Polli

Andrea Polli will present a brief summary of the book Far Field: Digital Culture, Climate Change and the Pole (a collection of essays) as historical background to the formation of this panel. She will also provide examples from her personal experiences as a media artist researching, visualizing and sonifying climate-related data in collaboration with scientists throughout the United States and at field sites in the Arctic and Antarctic.

Art In Science or Science In Art? – On a an Often Underestimated Relationship
Andreas Fischlin

“Logic, therefore, remains barren unless fertilized by intuition.” – Jules Henri Poincaré
“The aim of music is not to express feelings but to express music.” – Pierre Boulez

Many scientists believe not only that art has no place in science, but also that the two are basically incompatible and if art might exert any influence on science, this would bedraggle science. On the other hand many artists feel that science is dull and is thwarting their creativity and artistry. However, I am convinced the reality is more complex than that- that art, as well as science, are interlinked more than is generally acknowledged and could mutually benefit from each other. Drawing from my personal experience as a scientist and once musician, I will discuss how much science is art, and how much science can bring to art in a subjective collage of thoughts and ideas, mostly drawing from the topic climate change.

Bios of the Participants

Annick Bureaud
Annick Bureaud has been working as a consultant in the field of art, science and technology since 1985. She is the director of Leonardo/Olats, Observatory for the Arts and Techno-Sciences, the French Leonardo web site ( She is an independent art critic (being a member of the Leonardo Editorial Board and writing regularly in ART Press, a French contemporary art magazine). In 2002, she co-edited the book Connexions: art, r^cseaux, media, published by the Press of Ensba; she co-organized the International Symposium Artmedia VIII: From the Aesthetics of Communication to Net art in Paris and edited the online proceedings published by Leonardo/Olats. Her article Typologie des Interfaces Artistiques has been published in the collective book Interfaces et Sensorialite, edited by Louise Poissant, Sainte-Foy, Presses de l’Universite du Quebec, 2003. In 2003, she organized the symposium Visibility—Legibility of Space Art. Art and Zero G.: the Experience of Parabolic Flight, within the @rts Outsider Festival in Paris. In 2004, Bureaud published the first online book in the Leonardo/Olats series Les Basiques :L’Art “multimedia”.

Tom Corby
Tom Corby is an artist, writer and academic and is currently the deputy Director of the Centre for Research in Education, Art and Media (CREAM) at the University of Westminster in London. His interdisciplinary artworks, produced with Gavin Baily and Jonathan Mackenzie, explore technological and ecological relations and have been exhibited at numerous international venues including the Zentrum fur Kunst und Medientechnologie (ZKM), the ICA in London, the Intercommunication Centre (ICC) in Tokyo and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. He received awards at the 10th Japan Media Arts Festival in 2007 and at Prix Ars Electronica in 2006 and 2000 amongst many other awards. He is currently collaborating with the British Antarctic Survey to develop visualizations of oceanic, CO2 and atmospheric data and is an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) Research Fellow at the BBC. Reviews of his work have appeared in: Art Review, Art Monthly, The Guardian, La Repubblica, and Artist’s Newsletter. In 2005 he published Network Art: Practices and Positions (Routledge), an edited collection of essays by artists and writers exploring emerging artistic responses to information networks. He has also published in numerous journals including Leonardo and Media-N. The Southern Ocean Studies project website is

Nathan Cunningham
Nathan Cunningham is acting head of the Polar Data Centre, British Antarctic Survey (BAS). He represents BAS on a number of international and national scientific and data management committees including ICED, an international multidisciplinary initiative launched in response to the increasing need to develop integrated circumpolar analyses of Southern Ocean climate and ecosystem dynamics. He is also involved with developing public outreach work for BAS and increasing the availability of Antarctic Scientific Information. His research has been published in Polar Biology, Environmental Pollution, and the Transactions of the Royal Society and Deep Sea Research. He is currently co-investigator (with Tom Corby) on an Arts and Humanities Research Council funded interdisciplinary project on representing environmental change.

Andreas Fischlin
Andreas Fischlin is Head of the Terrestrial Systems Ecology Group, at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology. Born in 1949 he studied biology and systems theory and did ecological research in Canada. He returned to Switzerland ETH Zurich to teach systems ecology and computer science. He played a leading role in the design and formation of the novel curriculum and department of Environmental Sciences at ETH Zurich. He was presented with the Peace Nobel Prize 2007 as part of the awarded group Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), for his work as coordinating lead author in the Second and Fourth Assessment Report of the IPCC. He represents Swiss scientists in the Swiss delegation in United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) negotiations and has published numerous scientific works, notably on how climate change impacts on ecosystems.

Andrea Polli
Andrea Polli is a digital media artist living in New Mexico and Associate Professor in Fine Arts and Engineering at the University of New Mexico where she holds the Mesa Del Sol Endowed Chair of Digital Media at the University. Her work addresses issues related to science and technology in contemporary society. She is interested in global systems, the real time interconnectivity of these systems, and the effect of these systems on individuals. Polli’s work with science, technology and media has been presented widely in over 100 presentations, exhibitions and performances internationally and has been recognized by numerous grants, residencies and awards from various organizations including UNESCO. Her work has been reviewed by the Los Angeles Times, Art in America, Art News, NY Arts and others. She has published two book chapters, several audio CDs, DVDs and many papers in print including in both MIT Press and Cambridge University Press journals. She currently works in collaboration with atmospheric scientists to develop systems for understanding storm and climate through sound (called sonification). Recent projects include: a spatialized sonification of highly detailed models of storms that devastated the New York area, a series of sonifications of climate in Central Park and a real-time multi-channel sonification and visualization of weather in the Arctic. She has exhibited, performed, and lectured nationally and internationally and recently spent seven weeks in Antarctica on a National Science Foundation funded project

Posted by:  Ebru Surek