Materializing Data, Embodying Climate Change

Lead Research Organisation: University of the Arts London
Department Name: Central Saint Martin's College

Abstract

How might our engagement with climate change differ if we could walk around its data, touch it, carry it with us and experience it unhindered by digital screens, tablets and interfaces?

We know about our changing environment through the data that scientists collect. This material is highly significant as it shows how our climate is changing, but tends to be communicated to the public in technical visualisations and numeric diagrams that are highly abstract in form and difficult to understand for non-specialists. Studies have shown that people respond poorly to these information-heavy approaches, and in recent public polls climate change was mentioned by only 20% of respondents as an issue of concern. This has important implications for us all because understanding of climate change is vital to generating both required policy initiatives and personal changes in society at large.

Our research proposes that just as we experience our climate physically through immersion in landscapes and weather, our engagement with climate change might change if we similarly encountered its information and data in physical forms. As such, our project seeks to develop entirely new ways to represent climate change by taking its data (geological, atmospheric, biological) off digital screens and translate it into physical objects, artworks and environments. Research in computer science has shown that when we look at physical 3D prints of data, our ability to understand and engage with it increases. This is because when we touch or walk around real objects of dimension and scale, we involve more of our human senses. Physical representations of data not only enable better understanding of information, but also generate new kinds of insights and experiences.

We pursue our research through a unique combination of practice-based art and design enquiry in conjunction with science, public workshops and theoretical studies. Our team brings together experienced researchers from Central St. Martins, University of the Arts, the British Antarctic Survey, design studio Proboscis, and computer scientists from Birkbeck, University of London.

Using 3D printers, we translate climate data into physical structures, objects and environments, which involves writing software for data analysis, designing objects in 3D programmes, and experimenting with a range of sustainable materials (wood, resin, ceramics). Research develops in three phases exploring differences in scale, material and concept:

1) Small hand-held objects will examine how climate data can be made tactile, intimate and mobile
2) Larger component-based sculptures mirror the way that the Earth's climate is composed of interacting elements
3) Larger environmental installations develop ideas around inhabitation and shared responsibility for our climate

We aim to produce new public understandings of climate change by:

- Developing new representations and public experiences of our changing environment
- Producing new models of enquiry between art and science to communicate shared issues of concern
- Developing new physical approaches/techniques for the use of significant climate data

We will produce a substantial range of outputs including artworks, software, industry guides and publications. We expect this research to be of interest to the general public, policy groups, the creative industries and digital entrepreneurs pursuing novel applications of data. Key to our approach is that we directly engage the public in ways that enable them to feedback and input into research as it evolves. This activity takes the form of free 'maker' workshops, a festival of art and science and numerous exhibitions across the UK at significant public venues including the Victoria and Albert Museum (London), Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (Liverpool) and the Royal Meteorological Society (Reading).

Planned Impact

Given public interest in both climate change and data as topics of contemporary concern, we posit several different kinds of impact for external stakeholders. We have confirmed impact partnerships with the Victoria and Albert Museum, Foundation for Art and Creative Technology, and the Royal Meteorological Society, and we are in active discussion with nearby organisations in the Knowledge Quarter at Kings Cross including Google and the Arts Catalyst. Specific beneficiaries and forms of impact include:

1. The public benefit from research through access to enhanced cultural experiences that re-cast the knowledge of environmental change in new forms. Rather than present climate change as abstract phenomena, our research enables people to experience it as tangible and tactile encounters towards new imaginaries of the phenomena. By grounding this work in scientific data, we also increase public access to and understanding of the science of climate change through provision of innovative expressions, renderings and experiences.

2. Art and design interest groups, individual practitioners and external research organisations (e.g. HKW Anthropocene, Platform, Furtherfield) benefit by gaining specific insights into how data can inform new cultural representations of climate change beyond current digital screen-based approaches. These groups also gain access to new skills, processes and creative methodologies that increase technical capacity in studio practice and expanded conceptual understanding of issues in design and making.

3. There is considerable interest in the research topic from organisations in the cultural and independent museum sector (Arts Catalyst, MediaLab Prado, V2 in Rotterdam) who have a remit to follow and explain emerging interdisciplinary trends in art-science and climate-related issues. Research can enhance professional practice for these stakeholders by providing new insights into how artists are questioning normatively understood relationships between natural and technological environments; negotiating different conceptions of public engagement through maker workshops; and conceiving of different ways to frame understanding of scientific climate knowledge in the public realm. Research can also produce new audiences for such organisations through production of experiences, knowledge and resources directly relevant to their missions of engendering public understanding of the intersections between environment, science, sustainability and technology.

4. Our research is pertinent to policy groups focusing on relationships between culture, the environment, scientific knowledge and technology (Environmental Change Network, Open Data Institute). By couching scientific data in tangible, culturally engaging forms, we enhance understanding of the transformational role of culture and creativity in re-shaping public narratives around environmental change. Groups advocating for the role of the arts in this field (RIDE, Royal Society of the Arts) benefit from access to high-quality arts-based research and audience engagement strategies.

5. Research also develops new skills and techniques combining digital and material products, and will be of relevance to government policy makers (DCMS, BEIS) who have an interest in research that innovates technical and methodological understanding in emerging fabrication technologies, which is also of interest for practitioners in fields such as architecture and manufacturing.

Access to research for external beneficiaries occurs via our good practice industry Maker Manuals, participation in the steering committee, the website, Climate Art Festival, public talks, exhibitions, workshops and documentation of research processes.

Publications

10 25 50
 
Title "Space-Time Matters", DiffractiveMedia.Space, Alfred University, New York, USA, November 6 - December 6, 2020. 
Description Carbon Topographies is a global animated time series employing data from climate model outputs that seeks to make tangible how the Earth's atmosphere has been transformed by fossil fuel and other greenhouse gas emissions. The data derives from Carbon Tracker an open source CO2 measurement and modelling system developed by National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) *. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2020 
Impact To be added 
URL https://www.ericsouther.com/diffractivemedia
 
Title 12. NATOURALE film festival, Wiesbaden 2022 December 22nd. 
Description Model/animations The Carbon Chronicles 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://natourale.de/en/
 
Title ARTS x SDGS Online Festival - December 2021 
Description The Carbon Chronicles models and animations shown at an international festival. The ARTS x SDGS Online Festival aims to be the most dynamic, artist-led event bringing together members of the growing creative economy along with UN/NGO actors in support of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs.) It is curated by professional artists who are leaders in their respective industries as well as experienced working with the UN/NGO sector. A showcase of SDG-related art, a practical skills-building opportunity with creative workshops and presentations by SDG actors, the ARTS x SDGs Festival invests in the development of artists and storytellers who want to forge a career path or produce creative content around the SDGs. We pride ourselves in creating a festival that breaks down silos between the creative community and UN/NGO agencies, promoting responsible partnerships between content producers, brands, international agencies and others. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://sites.google.com/view/arts-x-sdgs-online-festival/program#h.qh7xfwbvxvbz
 
Title Athens Digital Art Festival 
Description From the industrial revolution to the present day, The Carbon Chronicles maps the regions contributing most to the climate crisis, which can be traced through the stalagmite growths representing CO2 emissions emitted by different countries. Beginning with the UK in the 1750s, emissions from coal began enveloping the planet, with other regions soon following. By the late 1800s through to the twenty-first century, growing industrial and extractive activity in the Global North is responsible for 92% of CO2 with 8% coming from the Global South. The spread of CO2 described in the animation mirrors the wider historic processes of power distribution imposed on poorer countries and shows that the atmosphere is as contested a space as the territories beneath it. "The Carbon Chronicles" informs the need for equitable solutions to the climate crisis, mindful of the historic consequences of carbon exploitation, to ask, Who Owns the Air? 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://2021.adaf.gr/animation/carbon-chronicles/
 
Title Carbon Chronicles Guerilla projection Tate Britain and Houses of Parliament 
Description the Carbon Chronicles projected at Tate Britain, The Houses of Parliament and Central Saint Martins London, 10th November 2021 The Earthrise photograph (1968) taken from lunar orbit by astronaut William Anders is an iconic image, that contributed to a rise in environmental consciousness that is still powerful today. Our animation builds on this tradition but takes a starker approach by visualising the data that shows how the build-up of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses has radically altered the Earth's atmosphere. The work maps from the industrial revolution to the present day the regions contributing most to the climate crisis, which can be traced through the stalagmite growths animating out from the different countries. Beginning with the UK in the 1750s, emissions from coal start enveloping the planet, other regions soon follow. By the late 1800s through to the current period, growing industrial and extraction activity in the Global North is responsible for 92% of CO2 with 8% coming from the Global South. The spread of CO2 described in the animation mirrors the wider historic processes of power distribution visited on poorer countries and shows that the atmosphere is as contested a space as the territories beneath it. Our animation informs the need for equitable solutions to the climate crisis that are mindful of the historic consequences of carbon exploitation to ask: Who Owns the Air? 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://vimeo.com/645456132
 
Title Cinema Verde 2022 
Description Model/Animation: The Carbon Chronicles Award winning animation 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact festival award. 
URL https://www.cinemaverde.org/film-archives/the-carbon-chronicles
 
Title Concrete House: Ars Electronica Festival Sept 2021 
Description 3d models and animations Carbon Chronicles' visualises the build-up of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses from the industrial revolution to the present. Beginning with the UK in the 1750s, emissions from coal start enveloping the planet, other regions follow. By the late 1800s, growing industrial activity in the Global North is responsible for 92% of CO2 with 8% coming from the Global South. The spread of CO2 mirrors wider processes of power distribution showing that the atmosphere is as contested a space as the territories beneath it. Our animation informs the need for equitable solutions to the climate crisis that are mindful of the historic consequences of carbon exploitation to ask: Who Owns the Air? 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://vrallart.com/artworks/the_carbon_chronicles/
 
Title Little Earths at Reimagining Museums for Climate Action/book public activity 
Description The Little Earths are 3D models derived from bathymetry data that integrates land topography including "Ice Surface" (Antarctic and Greenland top lying ice) and "bedrock" (base ice). The materials used for our prototypes use plant-based filaments (including seaweed) and are a sustainable source but we are also exploring the use of more fragile materials including glass or ceramics. The Little Earths will be offered to politicians and policy makers over an extended time period who will be tasked to carry them on a daily basis. Custodians will be required to document their reflections in diary form as an affirmation of the conscious care they need to demonstrate for the planet. The project shows how climate data can be distributed 'in the wild' tenderly, as a mobile and social form operative relationally outside of normative contexts of knowledge production and dissemination. https://www.manifest-data.org/post/unfolding-data-through-little-earths 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://www.museumsforclimateaction.org/mobilise/book
 
Title Planetary Assemblages Lethaby Gallery London 
Description The work of Monsoon Assemblages and the Manifest Data Lab visualises geophysical and atmospheric data as ways of making climate change perceptible and public. Through drawings, maps, animations and models saturated with data from multiple sources, Planetary Assemblages proposes a critical engagement by bringing two groups of work into dialogue. This dialogue demonstrates the power of art and design to explore our connections to the climate crisis and motivate awareness of the material, social and cultural ways we are implicated in it. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://www.arts.ac.uk/colleges/central-saint-martins/whats-on-at-csm/lethaby-gallery/planetary-asse...
 
Title Political Atmospherics 
Description Political Atmospherics Political Atmospherics describes series of physical models and animations that can either be installed together or as individual pieces. The works employ climate model data which we propose as a proto planetary archive which can reveal the processes of energy exchanges that compose the atmosphere alongside the socio-technical systems refiguring it and the weather. In this respect, we consider the atmosphere as a nebulous commons, transformed by extractivist acts of enclosure that dissipates and reforms as a material record of our cultures, behaviours and histories. This collision of the sensory and the political occurs across huge scales, connecting geo-chemical structures and processes; mineral and fossil necro-deposits; carbon industries; petroleum-states; infrastructures; pipelines and commerce. The work consists of the following: Over 20 models of various sizes, several animations, drawings and other physical outputs: Necrotopologies Necrotopologies are a series of physical models extruding carbon data into three-dimensional maps that interweave the many sources of anthropogenic carbon production. Produced from FDM and SLS large format 3D printers they depict over multiple spatial and temporal scales, carbon flows through fossil fuel extraction, energy, the manufacture of materials, transportation, travel and food production. In the context of the exhibition topic these processes might be considered as 'engines' that are re-making our planetary atmospheric systems. The models how the global economy global economy since the 1970s. Orthographic projections (1.5 metres diameter approximately) Globes Political Atmospherics Animations of carbon deposits in the atmosphere, that make tangible how it is being remade. Emanations of gaseous structure, girdling envelopes of carbon that are geo-forming the atmosphere, evidencing acts of enclosure. 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://www.manifest-data.org
 
Title Public Projections Tate Britain, House of Commons, Festival of Climate Art, Central Saint Martins, University of the Arts London, November 18-24, 2021 
Description Guerilla projection of creative climate data animations and models on Houses of Parliament, Tate Gallery and other locations. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact to be added. 
URL https://vimeo.com/manage/videos/645456132
 
Title Skyline exhibition A60 Contemporary Art Space Milan 
Description Model/animation the Carbon Chronicles installation. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://www.a60artspace.com/exhibitions?pgid=k5k5544p-e71a2f0c-dcd9-470e-a3d7-57500dfb82ec
 
Title THE NATURE OF THE FUTURE, Leu Art Gallery at Belmont University 
Description Model/animation The carbon chronicles 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://www.collegeart.org/jobs-and-opportunities/opportunities/listing/21798/
 
Title The Carbon Chronicles installation version 
Description The Earthrise photograph (1968) taken from lunar orbit by astronaut William Anders is an iconic image, that contributed to a rise in environmental consciousness that is still powerful today. Our animation builds on this tradition but takes a starker approach by visualising the data that shows how the build-up of CO2 and other greenhouse gasses has radically altered the Earth's atmosphere. The work maps from the industrial revolution to the present day the regions contributing most to the climate crisis, which can be traced through the stalagmite growths animating out from the different countries. Beginning with the UK in the 1750s, emissions from coal start enveloping the planet, other regions soon follow. By the late 1800s through to the current period, growing industrial and extraction activity in the Global North is responsible for 92% of CO2 with 8% coming from the Global South. The spread of CO2 described in the animation mirrors the wider historic processes of power distribution visited on poorer countries and shows that the atmosphere is as contested a space as the territories beneath it. Our animation informs the need for equitable solutions to the climate crisis that are mindful of the historic consequences of carbon exploitation to ask: Who Owns the Air? 
Type Of Art Artwork 
Year Produced 2021 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://vimeo.com/567050977
 
Title Weather Engines at Onassis-stegi, Athens April 2022 
Description "Weather Engines" explores the poetics, politics, and technologies of the environment from the ground to the sky, and from soil to atmosphere. The weather is a dynamic system of pressure, temperature and humidity. It manifests through maps, media, and simulations while it touches the skin. Weather is felt unevenly, from extremes to mundane mildness of a breeze. Some are exposed, some are sheltered; weather wears some down, some gain profit. "Weather Engines" is an art exhibition and a program of talks, performances and workshops taking place at ONASSIS STEGI and the National Observatory of ATHENS (Thissio). It explores weather as a complex system, as observation and control, and as a lived experience. The projects and events refer to natural phenomena and climate change, past and contemporary strategies of engineering the weather, as well as to different sociopolitical atmospheres related to breathing and living. Approaching the models and systems of art as techniques of knowledge, "Weather Engines" addresses the need for climate justice, and for embracing the surrounding more-than-human world(s). The exhibition is accompanied by the publication "Words of Weather: A glossary" that maps terms for a political ecology of experience. 
Type Of Art Artistic/Creative Exhibition 
Year Produced 2022 
Impact to be determined 
URL https://www.onassis.org/whats-on/weather-engines
 
Description 1. Different uses for climate data and visualisation
artistic visualisations of the type we produce we positi can develop 'points of view'. When applied to climate data this can provide opportunities for non-experts to engage its complexity in intuitive and sensory forms. Our approach has been to map these abstract enumerative forms as topographies enabling us to ground the data in a human experience of landscape and nature that make it familiar and approachable. Additionally, by translating information normally only encountered in virtual screen contexts into 3D forms, sensory short cuts to the complex forces underlying climate change are enabled that elevate the capacities of non-experts to bring their own embodied sensemaking to meaning construction.

These approaches we consider as complimentary to existing climate visualisation frameworks and not as replacements. We argue that the problem of climate change is not only scientific but philosophical, political and cultural and in this complexity can only truly solved holistically and our approach offers one route amongst many.

2. Climate Data as public form and critical use to present 'points of view'
Hannah Knox has described a shift in how the borders between politics, climate science and the public are blurring in response to the ever more pressing requirements for political action. This process is forcing a reorientation of the role of climate data and an ontological crisis, which questions it as a purely objectivist form concerned with tracking issues of scientific certainty, toward a public mode of knowledge that can inform sites of political action (2020).

In our artworks we have examined these possibilities by examining and scruitinising climate data more broad, which alongside its geochemical characteristics, can contain information on the origin points and responsibility for CO2 emissions. For example we have emphaised how revealed that beginning with the UK in the 1750s, emissions from coal started enveloping the planet, other regions in Europe and North America soon followed. By the late 1800s through to the current period, growing industrial and extractivist activity in the Global North was responsible for 92% of CO2 with 8% coming from the Global South. These modifications of the planet's atmospheric girdle are unevenly distributed geographically and in terms of immediate impacts, raising important issues in regard the role and capabilities of climate knowledge and historic legacies of exploitation. Reading the data through a lens of climate justice enabled a methodological framing of the potential of climate Visualizations to operate as a critical and public form that bring into view other issues of concern.

Our experiments with climate data and methods of 'critical reading' argue that climate is not only scientific, but philosophical, political and cultural and in these complex intersections of forces can only truly be solved holistically. Our practice research seeks to bring out additional affordances of climate data that can make visible issues of concern and can contribute to these debates.
Exploitation Route - We produce models of practice, techniques and methods for creative practioners to employ complex climate data sets, described in peer reviewed papers involving a 3 stage process that brings artistic methods of discovery to scinetific data sets: I) researching existing climate data sets to discover the scope and coverage of this information, ii) developing a conceptual orientation through discovery processes that identified hidden or overlooked aspects; ii) iterative programming, modelling and 3D printing experiments, open to 'happy accidents' and other creative process-led results.
- We synthesise traditions of nature and landscape to complex climate data in forms that enable audiences to relate to and understand underlying climate processes, producing hybrid artistic and scientific methodological framings of our changing climate.
- Specifically, our approach has been to map abstract enumerative climate forms as topographies enabling us to ground the data in a human experience of landscape and nature that made it familiar and approachable. Additionally, by translating information normally only encountered in virtual screen contexts into 3D forms, sensory short cuts to the complex forces underlying climate change are enabled that elevate the capacities of non-experts to bring their own embodied sensemaking to meaning construction.
- We develop critical methodologies that problematise notions of objectiviy in climate data visualisations but free this material for public comprehension as we approach it differently as a form of social and political record, enalbing us to consider how we could emphasise 'points of view' from the data not normally highlighted
Sectors Creative Economy,Digital/Communication/Information Technologies (including Software),Education,Environment,Leisure Activities, including Sports, Recreation and Tourism,Culture, Heritage, Museums and Collections

URL https://www.manifest-data.org
 
Description Participation in Reimagining Museums for Climate Action at COP26 Glasgow.
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to new or Improved professional practice
URL https://www.museumsforclimateaction.org/mobilise/book
 
Description Professional contribution to practice
Geographic Reach Europe 
Policy Influence Type Contribution to new or Improved professional practice
URL https://www.mataderomadrid.org/en/programs/matadero-critical-studies
 
Description workshop particpation in Camden Council Citizen Climate Assembly
Geographic Reach Local/Municipal/Regional 
Policy Influence Type Participation in a national consultation
URL https://gileslane.net/tag/rachel-jacobs/
 
Description Deepice collabortion 
Organisation Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions
Department Initial Training Networks (ITN)
Country Global 
Sector Charity/Non Profit 
PI Contribution The project PI was invited to become involved in the Deepice project a H2020 Marie Sklodowska-Curie Actions - Innovative Training Network. DEEPICE is an innovative training network for a new generation of 15 early-stage researchers in instrumentation, ice core analysis, statistic tools and glaciological and climatic modelling.It features 10 research organisations and universities as well as 11 partner organisations from 11 different countries (more information about the participants). This EU-funded project started on the 1st of January 2021 and will last until the 31st of December 2024.
Collaborator Contribution The PI is co-supervising a PhD student, and contributing cultural perspectives on climate data to the project.
Impact To be added
Start Year 2020
 
Description A Republic of Learning: Climate Change Cross Stitch (Dec, 2019) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Our third Republic of Learning event took place on Friday 15th November at Make@StoryGarden, and was intended to explore a different mode of exchange through a focus on making.


The first two RoL sessions had featured objects being shared and discussed as a vehicle for exploring the intersections between art, culture, science and climate change. Following feedback from previous sessions, we decided to place a greater emphasis on making as an activity to promote more relaxed discussions around the core themes. The third session developed from the basis of craft as reminiscent of digital process, in this case with cross-stitch employing a 0/1 approach across a predefined grid which could be utilised to communicate graph-like imagery through pixellation. Although the intention was to provide a new way of looking at local data, interpreted through making, we also aimed to combine some of the ubiquitous styles used in traditional cross-stitch. This included pre-defined floral decoration, as well as an invitation for participants to create an equivalent of the idiom 'Home Sweet Home', which we termed 'Personal Climate Mantras'. Cross-stitch is often considered a feminine activity and referred to as one of the 'domestic' arts. Typically cross-stitch patterns, once completed, are used as décor and framed, or made into throw pillows for sofas or beds. This translation of data takes a complex subject like climate and grounds it back into the space of the vernacular and domestic.


Erin had come across the TEDx video by Sarah Corbett on how "Activism needs introverts". In this video she discusses her experiences of working in activism and how activism, of any sort, tends to prioritise extrovert activities, such as campaigning and marches. She makes a case for finding ways in which people who are not comfortable with extrovert activities can be incorporated into activism using quieter, more contemplative approaches. Cross-stitching/embroidery can create a relaxed space for open discussion - makers can discuss harder topics without eye-contact, creating a more inclusive environment. The results can form powerful objects that can communicate with policy makers and others in inclusive and non-confrontational ways.

Rachel brought data from the Met Office she has worked with before, namely the "Mean Central England Temperature Anomalies" from 1659 to 2019. This graph indicates the range of anomalies in temperature measurements over a 360 year span, as well as indicating the mean anomaly. This (the mean anomaly) she converted into a simple cross-stitch pattern and placed at the top of the planner (above) which we created for participants to follow.

Our intention for this session had been to use a making activity as an alternative and convivial 'prop' that could allow conversations to flow in a more relaxed and reflective style. Previous sessions had used objects (from both Rachel's & Giles' prior artworks) as the props for the discussions, but we had found that a familiar style of debate was still arising that a number of participants expressed discomfort and dissatisfaction with. We knew already from other workshop and meeting experiences that when participants are engaged in practical making activities, their attention is punctuated by the craft process itself, slowing down and attenuating the exchange of words from a debate into a conversation.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.manifest-data.org/post/climate-change-cross-stitch
 
Description A republic of learning 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A Republic of Learning is a new monthly meeting space for exploring and discussing the role of art-making, data science and climate change and making things in response. It aims to address the local to global, to challenge experts and non-experts to learn together and share questions about how to make sense of the transformational changes ahead of humans, ecosystems and other lifeforms on the planet. To make responses together, outside of the habitual spaces in which we act. Our first meeting,, coincided with the Global Climate Strike in which millions of young people and others around the world took part - demonstrating for action on climate change. We gathered to make our own contribution to action - starting something we hope will grow over time and become a space for people to come together to share and learn together.
To get things started, Rachel Jacobs brought in some objects from various art works and projects and talked about her practice and how it has engaged with places, environments, communities and ecologies over the past decade and more. The objects provided us with tangible things to discuss among ourselves and think about what our own contributions to positive and purposeful transformation could be, especially as some of us had children participating directly in the marches and actions happening at the same time.
The monthly meetings - held on the 3rd Friday of the month (10.30am to 1pm) - will take place in The Story Garden, a new community space in Somers Town behind the British Library and next to the Francis Crick Institute, made by and for the local people and managed by Global Generation. We are generously hosted by Make @ Story Garden, a public engagement project of Central Saint Martins UAL.


The concept of a republic of learning is borrowed from Fred Garnett, who conceives of The Republic of Learning as a "post-Enlightenment" rethinking of self-determined learning spaces and communities outside of the academies and learned societies that have dominated learning and teaching for centuries. His concept harks back to Erasmus who, in the 1500s, declared himself a "citizen of the Republic of Letters". Our Republic of Learning is convened by artists, Rachel Jacobs, Erin Dickson and myself as part of the engagement activities of the Manifest Data Lab - a new transdisciplinary group based at Central Saint Martins who are exploring art, data manifestation and climate change. The format for the meetings will be open and fluid - no formal presentations or workshop structures, but instead a place where conversations can emerge and evolve. We hope to grow a community of people who want to address these issues through the lenses of creativity, in partnership with the insights offered by science and the possibilities of technologies, new and old.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2019
URL https://www.manifest-data.org/post/a-republic-of-learning
 
Description Carnival of Crisis: A parade for Climate Justice 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Demonstration and public march through London using creative methods of public engagement.
On Wednesday 10 November 2021, the Manifest Data Lab joined a march to show of solidarity and unity for climate justice as part of the Carnival of Crisis.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.arts.ac.uk/about-ual/sustainability/carnival-of-crisis/carnival-of-crisis-events
 
Description Creative climate modelling, SciArt Soiree, the Cambridge Festival, April 2, 2021. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Creative climate modelling, SciArt Soiree, the Cambridge Festival
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.festival.cam.ac.uk/events/sciart-soiree-online
 
Description Freeport Critical Cartography, workshops, Matadero Madrid, Centro de creación contemporánea está, Spain, November/December 2020. 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Industry/Business
Results and Impact Freeport Critical Cartography, workshops, Matadero Madrid, Centro de creación contemporánea está, Spain
12 x industry focused workshops about mapping contemporary complex systems and infrastructures of exploitation
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.mataderomadrid.org/en/calls/freeport-1-anatomies-black-box
 
Description Little Earths: Stewardship, Intimacy and Community at the Ice-Core Forum 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact How are people to make sense of this ocean of data about climate? To ride its swells and plumb its depths? How can we feel our way around it? How can we hold onto meaning when its ephemerality means it is constantly slipping through our grasp, like trying to pluck a handful of water? How might we enliven relations between humans and machines so that they can be mutually influential rather than unbalanced in favour of one side or the other?

We know that traditional visualisations of data such as graphs and dashboards often remain beyond the grasp of all but experts grounded in how to interpret them. But we can design ways to utilise the whole human sensorium (not just vision and hearing) for sense-making and interpretation, by making complex information tangible and appreciable in richer and more nuanced ways. This approach departs fundamentally from normative data representations on computer screens. It means embodying information in reciprocally interactive engagements that afford us greater use of our highly developed senses what we have been calling data manifestation to elicit empathic encounters.
https://www.manifest-data.org/post/little-earths-stewardship-intimacy-and-community
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.bas.ac.uk/event/uk-antarctic-science-conference-2021/
 
Description Manifesting Data, SciArt Soiree, the Cambridge Festival, April 2, 2021 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach International
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact Little Earths are physical artefacts derived from climate data, digitally modelled and locally crafted, which represent the power and fragility of Nature's environmental systems and our human relationships to it. They are actual manifestations not simply visualisations, activating new ways to appreciate data through embodiment can add to their scientific and cultural understandings. These personal talismans invert the normal scale relationship between humans and the planet, and seek to engage members of the public in a durational artwork that pervades their everyday lives as an act of mindful care and reflection. Focused around the themes of Stewardship, Intimacy and Community, Little Earths will be an emotional and sensory short-cut to knowledge through playful, social and imaginative connection.

https://gileslane.net/2021/04/07/manifesting-data-into-meaning-at-the-sciart-soiree/
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.festival.cam.ac.uk/events/sciart-soiree-online
 
Description Materializing Data: Embodying Climate Change, public research presentation at, Creative Carbon Scotland, 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach National
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact In November 2020, COP26 should have been held in Glasgow, UK. Instead, we can use the time to increase our understanding of climate change, discover new ways to share knowledge, and build connections between those working in different fields with a shared interest in understanding and protecting the planet.
If you are an artist, creative practitioner, or a climate scientist with an interest in how science and art can work together to develop understanding of climate change, please join us for this exciting collaborative discussion event.

In this Green Tease event, Creative Carbon Scotland are working in partnership with Blue-Action. The aim of the event is to bring together climate research scientists with arts practitioners, to discuss and explore the role of the arts for developing understanding of complex science for the public.
Climate researchers from the Blue-Action project and artists experienced in working with creative data visualization will share alternative perspectives on the issues, followed by a group workshop bringing together artists and scientists to brainstorm ideas for events, projects, techniques or art works that could bring about greater public connection and understanding. Our speakers will be:
Dr Iuliia Polkova: Iuliia is a research scientist based at the Institute of Oceanography at the University of Hamburg. She has specific interests in climate prediction and science communication through writing, storytelling and art, which she has recently started a new research project to focus on.
Dr Tom Corby: Tom is an artist, writer and teacher interested in issues around climate, data and systems. His artwork (in collaboration with Gavin Baily ) has been exhibited worldwide at numerous festivals, galleries and museums including at the Institute of Contemporary Arts; Victoria and Albert Museum; Tate Online; Arts Catalyst Project Space; Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Photography; Transmediale; ZKM, ISEA; Ars Electronica; the Madrid Art Fair, and the Intercommunication Centre Tokyo (ICC) amongst many others. He is currently principal investigator on the AHRC funded project "Materialising Data: Embodying Climate Change", ac Central St Martins, University of the Arts London. https://www.manifest-data.org/
Dr Martin Coath: Martin is a scientist, science communicator and musician currently developing and delivering projects for Plymouth University, The University of Finland, and the British Council. Famelab finalist, twice winner of I'm a Scientist Get Me Out of Here!, and scientific adviser and songwriter for Brainsex - a Wellcome Trust funded project developed originally for the Edinburgh Fringe.
This event will be held via Zoom. Please sign up on Eventbrite and you will receive an email on the day of the event with a link to join the online call. If you have any problems, please get in touch with lewis.coenen-rowe@creativecarbonscotland.com.

https://www.edinburghclimate.org.uk/event/understanding-climate-complexity-science-through-art
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.creativecarbonscotland.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/11/CarbScot_Nov_2020F_compressed.pdf
 
Description Republic of Learning 4: Imagining Climate Futures (Feb, 2020) 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The first of our Winter 2020 series of Republic of Learning sessions took place on Friday 24th January at MAKE@StoryGarden in Somers Town. The focus of this series is 'Imagining Climate Futures' : using art, crafts and model making as a way to share ideas about how we can respond to climate impacts.

It is clear that, whilst almost all humans are contributing in some way to the emissions caused by mass consumption and the increasing industrial extraction of natural resources, the effects are felt asymmetrically across the globe. The cumulative effect of increased carbon in the atmosphere (amongst other factors) is itself distributed globally, but the effects and impacts which this causes are local and particular to specific environments and ecologies. We are seeing very different impacts - from the unprecedented bush fires in Australia, to flooding in Indonesia, severe storms across Southern USA and, of course, Storm Ciara which has only just hit the UK with tremendous force.

In our workshop, Erin, Rachel & Giles facilitated a creative and convivial space - primarily working with felt - in which the participants were asked to collectively create a series of 'climate emblems'. The emblems are built up collectively over five stages. Each participant starts with a blank circle of felt and adds elements in response to a series of questions. At the end of each making stage, they describe what they have done, and pass their emblem to the next person. Then, receiving one from the person next to them, they continue with the next stage, before describing what they have added or changed and passing it on again.

The workshop has a specific workflow of intense making activities punctuated by animated discussions - everyone takes turns to speak, and there is space for conversations to flow between participants. Not only that, but there is a high degree of collaboration and sharing of skills as people assist each other with practical tasks of cutting and making. We also see people being stimulated by other participants' creativity to challenge themselves and expand their own repertoires of making and expressing themselves through materials. At each stage the participants add to, or adapt something the person to their left has made, and this builds up into a complex, shared visual and tactile expression of ideas. The resulting emblems are assemblages of highly personal responses, yet collective too.

What has been intensely interesting are the transitions that happen during the workshop as people arrive with ideas and feelings that, through the process, can shift or change. We have seen people arrive with feelings of despair and despondency caused by the climate crisis or emergency (sometimes referred to as "eco-" or "climate-anxiety"), engaging in the creative expression and sharing of ideas to find themselves feeling positive and inspired at the end. Others have come and experienced a growing awareness of connections and interdependencies that they had been unaware of before.

Over the next two sessions we will continue to explore what kinds of responses we can make that could close the distance between our situation here in London - in Kings Cross and Somers Town - and those of others elsewhere in the world. We will build on the climate emblems by devising models for imaginary climate futures in which humans can not only survive, but thrive and cope with the complex spectrum of changes that lie ahead of us. We plan to show the material outcomes in a pop-up exhibition during the summer.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.manifest-data.org/post/republic-of-learning-4-imagining-climate-futures
 
Description Republic of Learning 5: Imagining Climate Futures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The fifth Republic of Learning workshop and second in our current theme of "Imagining Climate Futures"at MAKE at Story Garden. We are continuing to use art, crafts and model making as a way to share ideas about how we can respond to climate impacts - to frame and host conversations about futures that many are finding bleak and frightening as the news remains full of stories about extreme weather events, disturbing natural phenomena and sudden changes to the usual patterns in our climates and environments.

The aim of the workshops is to establish a creative and convivial space in which people can come together to discuss these issues and to explore together what sort of responses to climate impacts we can have, whether they have expert knowledge in any related field or are just curious or concerned. Using craft and makings skills as a vehicle for conversation changes the dynamic (from more traditional discursive spaces) by slowing things down and providing a focus on attending to the material world instead of the purely abstract world of ideas and opinions.

From working with felt to create 'climate emblems' in our last workshop, we shifted to working with clay to manifest ideas. The very different material qualities of clay, and the need to work directly with the hands - to knead and work it, keeping the clay moist and pliable - makes this activity a more contemplative one. It took place during the school half term, and so we had been advised that there may be families attending as part of the "Busy Hands" week across the StoryGarden. We adjusted our plans so that the workshop could accommodate people of different ages dropping in and just making things without needing to get engrossed in the more complex aspects of the theme.

We identified three key climate impacts - fires, storms and changes to the seasons - which people could respond to, each of which have either been in the news (e.g. the extraordinary Australian bush fires) or which we have had direct experience of, such as the recent series of storms to batter the UK (Ciara & Dennis) or the early onset of Spring as visible in blossoms and flowers appearing from late January through February, many of which are a month or six weeks earlier than usual.
What we think these Republic of Learning workshops enables is a space in which we can begin to explore these questions not just from a personal perspective, but from a more collective dimension. What will it mean for us to become 'resilient' in the face of the kinds of impacts and changes that may be wrought upon us as climate change becomes the 'new normal'? How can we feel a sense of empowerment to cope with changes - social, cultural, political, economic, environmental - by facing these together, as communities and not just as isolated individuals for small family units.
The conversations flowed from highlighting personal responsibilities in our contribution to climate change (the 'carbon footprint selfie camera') to ideas for making better use of existing social infrastructure for homeless people who may need temporary shelters during the increasingly frequent storms, to ways to better share the excess materials ('waste') from local industrial or artisanal production for making new things, to placement programmes for urban dwellers to spend time in nature working on projects to restore or re-wild natural environments - thus connecting with and gaining a direct experience of nature and natural forces, to having rural dwellers take part in urban projects to 'green' our towns and cities, on similar placement-style schemes.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.manifest-data.org/post/republic-of-learning-5
 
Description Republic of Learning 6 Theme : Imagining Climate Futures 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact We bought our current theme "Imagining Climate Futures" to a close with a workshop that reflects on the relationship between Coronavirus/COVID-19 and climate futures, and whether we are now living in some kind of 'Futuristic Present '. The online workshop explored how we deal with the urgency of climate change and the 'tipping points' that scientists tell us will speed up climate change and make permanent changes to our world. We also included tipping point data (PDF slides) about the virus and what we can carry forward so that we don't just return to business as usual after this current crisis. Using origami paper folding we combined the data and our personal reflections to make paper worlds that represent our actions and responses, and link across to the Earth's climate systems: Land (Lithosphere); Air (Atmosphere); Oceans (Hydrosphere) and Ice (Cryosphere).

An experiment in how to remain connected with each other, and continue to be creative and resilient in challenging times.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://www.manifest-data.org/post/republic-of-learning-6
 
Description Republic of Learning 7: Atmospheric Commons 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact The workshop explored our past and present impacts on the Earth's atmosphere - personally, locally and globally. We sought to imagine whatever comes next making artistic/craft based responses that combine scientific data with our own questions and stories about the future.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.manifest-data.org/post/republic-of-learning-7-atmospheric-commons
 
Description Republic of Learning 8: Little Earths, Mythical Objects & Human Storie 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact What do we love, care for and want to protect? How would we feel about the planet - the places and non-humans that we love - if we could hold them in our pocket? In this workshop we made our own Little Earths, stewardship objects that combine craft making, intimacy, scientific data and stories. A mythical object to keep in our pockets, have in our home or gift to others.
he Little Earths we make are based on the Russian nesting Babushka/Matryosjka dolls, worry beads and measurement cups. The Babushka doll is a folk object, nesting different sized dolls within each other to represent different layers of our selves. Worry beads act as a focus of prayer, meditation and mantras. Measurement cups are the most basic way we can measure materials to cook. Nested objects, whether inside each other or alongside each other, help us to see ourselves in relation to the world at different scales.


We will ask 8 questions. The first 4 questions will aid us to create the frame or structure of the Little Earth. These will respond to scientific data and observations at a global, national, local and then individual scale. The next 4 questions will help us explore how we might love, care and protect our Little Earth, responding to myth and folk tales. Leading us to each create a talisman for a more reciprocal future. Drawing on indigenous, folk, historic and scientific knowledge of climate, social and environmental change.

Through the act of making these objects we explored what we can gain from qualitative data (experience) as well as quantitative data (numbers) and how this can then be translated into acts of love, care and protection. Not seeking easy explanations (or judgements) but finding ways to pay attention, be present and share what our own senses and understanding of place, responsibility and change can bring.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2021
URL https://www.manifest-data.org/post/republic-of-learning-8-little-earths-mythical-objects-human-stori...
 
Description Republic of Learning 9: Creating a Reciprocal System 
Form Of Engagement Activity Participation in an activity, workshop or similar
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Public/other audiences
Results and Impact A workshop combining craft making, scientific data, intimacy, observation and stories to bring people together to imagine a human-made reciprocal and sustainable system that connects us back to the Earth's own dynamic system (hydrosphere, geosphere, atmosphere, biosphere).
Theme : Creating A Reciprocal System

AI, robots, driverless cars - machines that enable us to have "frictionless" lives and "satisfy" our every needs and dreams... What would a system look like that relies on reciprocity, sharing and gifting rather than ease, desire and consumption?

What is a reciprocal system?

This workshop will combined artistic and craft-based making to explore what a system of resilience, co-operation, re-enchantment and intimacy might be. It bought together learning from previous sessions and work with the Earth's planetary system (Atmosphere, Geosphere, Hydrosphere and Biosphere) to create a model for this new system.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2022
URL https://www.manifest-data.org/post/republic-of-learning-9-creating-a-reciprocal-system
 
Description Research presentation at the Critical Ecologies Research Symposium, Goldsmiths College London, October 29, 2020. 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Other audiences
Results and Impact Research presentation at the Critical Ecologies Research Symposium, Goldsmiths College London, October 29, 2020.
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020
URL https://sites.gold.ac.uk/technologies-worlds-politics/critical-ecologies/
 
Description Research presentation, public research symposium at the Royal College of Art, London 
Form Of Engagement Activity A talk or presentation
Part Of Official Scheme? No
Geographic Reach Regional
Primary Audience Postgraduate students
Results and Impact Ongoing presentation of research to the Royal College of Art
Year(s) Of Engagement Activity 2020