With new thematic productions every month and new people joining the V2_Lab team for every project the lab desperately needed a database to store and maintain details of relevant people, institutions, and projects. Over the years, the knowledgebase has become increasingly valuable to researchers and artists at V2_ and far beyond.
The Lab runs on teamwork, and with artists coming and going, it’s important for the developers and project managers to be able to share and preserve information. The database contains concise details on artists, institutions and artworks that were produced or exhibited by V2_ as well as other relevant items such as key projects and players in the field or even materials relevant to certain productions. “In principle, anyone can set up an account and add useful information to the database,” says V2_Lab’s Piem Wirtz. “Of course, in the first instance, we’re thinking of people we work with on a project basis, for instance, in the field of wearable technology a lot of the information comes forth out of our regular e-Textile Workspace meetings. V2_ is a knowledge institute; so sharing and preserving knowledge is one of our core activities.”
Making data meaningful – and beautiful
V2_ approached Carles Tardío Pi to create a graphical interface to navigate the knowledgebase. Rather than scrolling long alphabetical lists, it can now be browsed using tags and search terms, but also as a cloud that shows relationships between items.
Carles says about his project:
“The growth and use of data around the world is, of course, enormous. The digitization of all kinds of systems has far-reaching social and personal consequences. Lev Manovich said that this capacity for generating data has far exceeded our ability to comprehend it, because our cognitive capacity hasn’t grown to match the exponential increase in information to be interpreted.
“The simple question is how human beings can keep processing this enormous amount of data and give it meaning. My origin is in science but I got involved in a great data visualization project http://www.culturesdelcanvi.com/ and got hooked to it. Now I’m designing systems to show connections in databases in a visual, playful way.
“Data visualization is an emerging field. It’s mainly a tool for understanding data – discovering patterns, connections and structures. Science is the area of human activity targeting the discovery of new knowledge about the world through systematic methods, such as experimentation, mathematical modeling and simulation, and visualization is one of these methods.
“Data visualization also belongs to design, though, since it involves visually presenting data in a way that facilitates the perception of patterns – just as a graphic designer organizes information on a poster or web page to help the user navigate its layout efficiently. In some cases, data visualization can be considered as an art project. The intent of these projects is not to show patterns or structures in data sets but to use design as a technique for producing something aesthetically interesting or generating new meaning.
“The project we did for V2_Knowledgebase was an attempt to create a playful but meaningful interface within the context of some of the information generated within the V2_ Institute. We tried to make date look beautiful and become meaningful in a sometimes surprising way.”