Focus Artistic Research

Tanspositions: Artistic Data Exploration

Michael Schwab

Institute of Fine Arts and Media Art / national research partner

The research project investigates the possibility of generating new auditory and visual forms based on the analysis and mathematical transformation of scientific data. In addition, the project studies whether and how these new forms are of scientific significance by asking the collaborating researchers to scientifically analyze the artistic outputs. By remaining true to the data while employing an artistic working method and, thus, by combining scientific and artistic values, the project contributes to the conceptual development of a space for research that is shared between art and science. This, however, implies that during the project both scientists and artists will be challenged to work in ways that are unfamiliar to them, either through confrontation with complex artistic interpretations of data or through exposure to very specific scientific working methods. On a meta-level, the project will report on the types of interactions that are deemed to be of value to either the artists, the scientists or both.
At present, scientists use a variety of sonification and visualization procedures to analyse and communicate their findings. For artists, those representations are often of little artistic value since they are geared towards a transparent communication of the data creating little space for artistic interventions. Conversely, by foregrounding aesthetic effects, the expanding field of artistic data sonification and visualization runs the risk of producing art works that only superficially related back to the scientific research from which the data originated. While giving the arts an important role in the communication of scientific activity, the artistic exploration of scientific data may thus add very little to the research itself. Given the ever-increasing amount and importance of data representations, it is of particular importance that artists become engaged with their fabrication and to identify how in spite of their very different constitution aesthetic and epistemic research aims may support each other.
Three case studies from different scientific fields provide data to be transposed by the artists into artistic outputs, which are in turn analysed by the scientists. The artists have an established practice in music composition and visual art, respectively, and have been collaborating very productively for the last 3 years. Given the transdisciplinary nature of the artistic collaboration it is possible to investigate issues of intermediality not only between art and science but also from within the arts. The process of creation and analysis is continuously exposed on the Research Catalogue online platform while a number of performances/exhibitions make the outputs tangible to the scientists and the general public.


Head: Gerhard Eckel (Institut für Elektronische Musik und Akustik, Universität für Musik und darstellende Kunst Graz)