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  • The Artists’ FootprintInvestigating the Distinct Contributions of Artists Engaging the Public with Climate Data
  • Rachel Jacobs

This thesis investigates the distinct contributions of artists who engage the public with climate data, focusing on two studies of artist-led projects: an interactive artwork that engaged the public with climate data and the design of an online platform for capturing, authoring and “performing” climate data.

The studies reveal how the projects were designed and experienced, through a mixed-methods approach requiring the author to shift perspectives to investigate her own arts practice alongside the work of other artists in this field.

The findings suggest the artists adopt a distinctive voice that fosters an emotional engagement with climate data, rather than an informative or persuasive one, that goes beyond “environmental knowing” toward human-scale, embodied, localized and personalized sense making. This research reveals how the artists use key strategies of performing data, sensory experience and multiple interpretations; engaging temporal structures and narratives; treating the data as a new material that is embedded into the artworks and embodied in various sensory forms; and abstracting and juxtaposing multiple, contrasting and yet related datasets, while opening up spaces between them for interpretation and dialogue. This results in a discussion of the role of technology within the artistic process— how the artists walk a line between authenticity and emotional engagement and the importance of ongoing dialogic collaborations between disciplines.

This research reveals that artists have a distinctive role to play in relation to climate change and sustainability, from which those in other disciplines might ultimately learn more about how to bring an emotional treatment to other forms of data.

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Rachel Jacobs, A Conversation between Trees, interactive multimedia, 2011.

(© Rachel Jacobs. Photo: Active Ingredient.)

Rachel Jacobs
<>. PhD diss., University of Nottingham, U.K., 2014.


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p. 461
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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