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now sees the empirical connotations of data as rich conceptual territory for the artist. “My realization was that we could never agree on a precise location of a boundary,” says Tsao. “It’s where you stand and how you see it that determines the division.”

Data as Metaphor For Naroa Lizar (M.F.A. Integrated Practices and New Forms ’13), physical engagement with data prompted her interest in data’s metaphoric potential. With only a rudimentary understanding of coding, Lizar typed 99 sentences from signs used in the 2011–12 Occupy Wall Street protests into the algorithmic code of a Google Maps photograph of Zuccotti Park. The result was a digital image that gradually fragmented in response to the intervening text. For her senior thesis exhibition, 59 Days (& Nights), the artist captured the fragmentation on video and added a scroll of the corrupted code running along the bottom of the screen. A social commentary on the media’s depiction of the Occupy Wall Street movement, 59 Days also featured 59 ceramic pigs and a 383-page book of the printed code with the 99 sentences interspersed among the code’s digits. “The installation challenges the media’s ability to control the coverage of Occupy Wall Street and the impact of the media’s intervention on our understanding of political events,” says Lizar. “Like the data itself, it’s always about what is there and what is not there. What you can see and what is hidden.” While Lizar and Tsao’s use of data has furthered their artistic aims, neither works exclusively in the digital realm. But alumnus Brian Cavanaugh (M.F.A. Integrated Practices and New Forms ’10) has made digital art the cornerstone of his creative practice. “I am a ‘techy,’ ” says Cavanaugh. “And throughout my time at Pratt, I explored the integration of programming, interactivity, and video with studies that spanned the Fine Arts program and took me into the Digital Arts program as well.” Cavanaugh’s most recent work, #happy is…, is a projected installation created from the collection of real-time information of Instagram photos tagged “#happy.” To capture and analyze the Instagram data, Cavanaugh built a software system that downloads the imagery from the web and analyzes each pixel to calculate the image’s average color. The information is then converted into an animated grid. Viewers watch as thin bands of color scroll down a large screen to become visual representations of a shared idea of happiness. “Digital technology is constantly increasing the ways in which data is being collected and how it is being used,” says Cavanaugh, who recently showed #happy is… at the Figment NYC arts festival. “It opens up a lot of issues I am interested in: everything from data privacy and transparency to how data advances our technologies and give us freedom to create.”

“Data alone is not enough. The artist has to expose something deeper.” –Ben Fino-Radin

Profile for Pratt Institute

Prattfolio Fall/Winter 2013 "Visualizing Data" Issue  

This issue examines some of the ways Pratt artists and designers are using their skills to transform statistics into meaningful stories--and...

Prattfolio Fall/Winter 2013 "Visualizing Data" Issue  

This issue examines some of the ways Pratt artists and designers are using their skills to transform statistics into meaningful stories--and...