Data Relations

Data Relations is an exhibition on show now at the Australian Centre for Contemporary Art which considers our expanding data economy. Australian and international artists look at the impact of this shift in technology and also the social outcomes, as admittedly we now inhabit a data-obsessed society. Data Relations goes a step further to highlight and ponder the extremes of artificial intelligence.

Exhibition curator Miriam Kelly says the works on show are profound, humorous, poetic and confronting she continues, “The impacts of what has been described as the ‘data revolution’ – that began with the internet and accelerated with the opportunities to commercialise data and store vast amounts of ‘big data’ – cannot be understated within our economic, political, environmental, social and cultural contexts. Data now permeates contemporary life”.

Machine Listening (Sean Dockray, James Parker, Joel Stern), After Words 2022 , installation view, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Andrew Curtis

Sean Dockray, James Parker and Joel Stern present ‘Machine Listening’, a new sound installation that probes the politics of artificially intelligent home devices and the concept of the ‘wake word’, a phrase that prompts a device to start recording which is then sent to the cloud.

‘Synthetic messenger’ by Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne’s follows a Botnet, group of Internet connected devices which each run one or more bots, as it tries to increase the value of climate change news by clicking on online advertisements. ACCA says this installation examines “the relationship between climate change and the internet’s data-hungry business model, that subsequently produces its capacity for splintering public opinion and an algorithmic myopia.”

Tega Brain and Sam Lavigne, Synthetic Messenger 2021 , installation view, Australian Centre for Contemporary Art, Melbourne. Courtesy the artist. Photograph: Andrew Curtis

As the show title suggests ‘Data Relations’ is both about this new economy of information as well as the advent of new and complex social interactions. The full line-up of artists includes Zach Blas, Tega Brain & Sam Lavigne, Lauren Lee McCarthy, Machine Listening (Sean Dockray, James Parker and Joel Stern), Mimi Onuoha and Winnie Soon.

Curator, Kelly concludes “I believe that some of the most interesting and vital art of our times is being made with and about data, and particularly the issue of data relations.”

Data Relations is on view at ACCA in Melbourne until 19 March 2023. For more info visit ACCA’s website here, while you’re there is an array of audio recordings worth listening to as each artist answers the question ‘What is data?’