Back in October, we teamed up with the friendly folk at Julie’s Bicycle - who work with creative industries to make sustainability an intrinsic part of business practice - to host a two-day Environmental Data Lab here at the Pervasive Media Studio.
The Lab brought together a fantastic group of artists, technologists, data analysts and designers, to explore how the ‘invisible’ data we collect from our environment – things like temperature, air pollution levels, water and energy consumption – can be made ‘visible’ and more relevant to us.
Using data collected by Julie’s Bicycle and live feeds from the local Bristol environment, the groups invented new products, experiences and installations that aimed to promote better understanding of our impact on the world, and encourage us to care. The mix of perspectives in the room ensured that the three prototype projects were both diverse and imaginative. From a network of pods that print poems inspired by environmental data, to a bio-powered light installation that indicates air pollution levels, to a display that shows building users what other global cities are precisely the same temperature, workshop participants found unique methods to translate environmental data in imaginative yet palpable ways.
Watch this short video to hear more about the lab and how this kind of collaborative, creative and practical way of working can benefit participants, projects, the arts, and the environmental sector.
Victoria Tillotson, Watershed Producer says:
“As a society we collect masses of data, but this only becomes useful if we do something with it. Charts, graphs and images that visualise it can be great, but rarely have lasting impact. By creating situations where data is tangible - where we can play with it, manipulate it, dance with it, hear it, touch it, influence it - gives it far more impact. It is more likely to cause people to think and act differently. At Watershed we actively support practitioners exploring this territory and were delighted to work with Julie’s Bicycle to produce this Lab.”
Sholeh Johnston, Julie’s Bicycle Arts Manager says:
“Julie’s Bicycle has, over the last seven years, amassed a unique environmental data set from the creative industries. It’s driven a lot of awareness and change in the sector, but we are always looking for new ways to bring the stories inherent in this data to life. Working in partnership with Watershed, and all of the Data Lab participants, allowed us to bring together expert and curious people to explore how environmental data might influence new ways of thinking and doing if interpreted more creatively. The ideas that emerged have inspired and challenged us, and we hope to continue this work through our creative programme.”
Supported by Arts Council England, this thought provoking Lab was part of Julie’s Bicycle’s Sustaining Creative programme, a series of conversations, events and publications exploring environmental challenges and how we can work together to change things.