Thanks to all of you who joined us on Wednesday night for the launch of Virga and Critical Play (more on that to come).
It was a terrific night and a great way to end what’s been a really enjoyable two year project.
This is Rob and me trying to give speeches about the work whilst it steals the show…
I’ve tried to explain to a number of people what the Data Aesthetics project is over the last two years and I’m still struggling to fully explain it but for want of a better attempt here’s the press release we sent out about it…
The Cloud Takes Shape in Bricks & Mortar Retail
Virga – Data Aesthetics in Retail Space
Data Aesthetics in Retail Space is a collaborative project between Make Designed Objects, Robert Foster of Fink & Co and Geoff Hinchcliffe of University of Canberra’s Faculty of Arts & Design.
Virga (an observable streak or shaft of precipitation that falls from a cloud but evaporates or sublimes before reaching the ground) is the product of that collaboration; an LED light and data sculpture formed by internationally acclaimed designer-maker Robert Foster that colourfully expresses itself based on the digital data fed into its environment.
Any data we choose!
Want to watch a colourful representation of the seasonal nature of Make’s sales data?
Feed in the data.
The change in inner Melbourne maximum average daily temperatures from 1913-2013?
Feed in the data.
With bricks and mortar retailers rapidly migrating to the World Wide Web why not bring a bit of the World Wide Web back into bricks and mortar retail? Why not feed the traffic data from the Make website into Virga and see what happens?
The real joy of Virga lies in its abstract representation of a digital world in a rapidly evolving bricks and mortar retail environment.
And it looks way cool…
The proliferation of data and its presence in our everyday lives leads us to ask new questions about data and its representation. Rather than the analytical question of which data visualisation has focused, this project focuses on the aesthetics of data, the materiality of data and its cultural role.
Key to Virga is research conducted by staff within the University of Canberra’s Centre for Creative and Cultural Research into; data visualisation; cultural interface aesthetics; emotive lighting design, and 2D and 3D data forms.
Virga aims to provide new insight into the design of data within a retail context; the material aesthetics of data; and the poetics of physical data representation.
Make Designed Objects
The launch of Virga coincides with the 10th anniversary of Make Designed Objects. The design store began life in May 2003 when it opened the doors in Carlton in the inner north of Melbourne. Since then the business has grown rapidly to become one of Australia’s finest design stores.
In a market and world where increasingly we have a physical and virtual version of almost everything; people, businesses, streetscapes… it’s not surprising that online retail is booming. And while the news reports a great deal of fear for bricks and mortar retail, this ever changing market presents opportunities for innovation in brokering an extended relationship between the virtual and physical aspects of a retail business such as Make.
It is from within this landscape that Pat Coppel, Director of Make has initiated this collaboration between retailer, designer-maker and academic. The result is Virga; a beautiful sculptural installation that translates our technological data into a spectacular visual language of light and colour. As such, Virga creates a playful narrative around the virtual and physical instances of Make Designed Objects.
Robert Foster initially trained as a silversmith and enjoys an international reputation as a designer and skilled hollow ware maker. His name is closely associated with F!NK & Co., his production company based on distinctive, colourful, durable, anodised aluminium homewares. All F!NK & Co products are made in Australia.
Foster’s studio works place great emphasis on the importance of research and development. He pushes both handwork techniques and innovative applied technology allowing the discovery of new aesthetic expression built from a freedom that comes from a complete mastery of his medium.
His practice encompasses lighting, furniture, accessories and public art commissions, highlighted with signature vessels and teapots full of personality, held in major international collections.
Geoff Hinchcliffe is an Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Arts & Design at the University of Canberra where he heads up the Graphic Design and Web Design & Production programs. Before commencing his academic career, Geoff worked as a commercial designer in print publication, web, interactive media, and broadcast graphics. He has served as a councillor for the Australian Graphic Design Association at state and national levels.
Geoff’s current focus is on new forms and practices in graphic design: web design; interface design; generative design; and data visualisation.
Geoff’s practice-based PhD focused on the creative and aesthetic dimensions of computer interface media. His experimental design work parallels his theoretical research, exploring creative modes of interface communication and interaction.
So there you go!
I’m still not exactly sure what it is we’ve done but I’ve realised that at the very least we’ve given birth to an organism that will grow and change over time.
And that’s quite a pleasing thing!
From left: Gretel Harrison (Fink & Co), Pat Coppel (Make Designed Objects), Robert Foster (Fink & Co), Geoff Hinchcliffe (University of Canberra)