Data Meditations

The ancestral practice of meditation is re-mediated through data and computation, making them the gateway to unprecedented forms of self-awareness, relations, and empathy – practicable even in times of physical and social separation.

Inspired by the lockdown experience of the 2020 pandemics, a new ritual is born

THE PROJECT 

Why does data have to be an extractive process?

Data Meditations is the first ritual designed with the new approach of HER: she Loves Data, which addresses data as existential and cultural phenomena, and the need of creating experience (contemporary rituals) that allow societies and individuals to come together around data generating meaning, new forms of solidarity, empathy, interconnection and knowledge.

>> What can we learn about ourselves through the data we generate everyday?

>> How che use them as an expressive form to represent ourselves?

>> How can we wear someone else’s data, or the data of our communities, to better understand their lives, emotions and desires?

>> How can we use them to increase self-awareness, and gather around them to better observe ourselves and the environment?

>> What lies beyond privacy and control? 

Inspired by the Covid19 lockdown experience, an updated version of meditation comes to life, using data as an autobiographical act, and a platform for expression for individuals and communities.

THE WORKSHOP

Data Meditations was designed for the omonimous workshop “Data Meditations: new rituals for new possible worlds“.

Realized for the HDSA2020 (Hackers & Designers Academy 2020) in Amsterdam, the workshop was held remotely from July 20th to July 25th, involving an international group of participant from all over the world who experimented for  the first time a new type of ritual: a form of daily mediation through data.

During the week, the group collected data on their existential conditions through a simple web interface, experimenting new ways to address digital identities, share data or keep them, experience the data we ganerate or other people’s data – understanding ourselves and our differences in more meaningful ways.

Each day at 6.30 pm, the group gathered online to connect and meditate through data.

THE RITUAL

In the ritual participants can experience their own data and those of an “Other”: an anonymous member within the group. Sonified and visualized, on the right side is possible to “hear and see” your data; on the left side the data of your “Other”.

The couples, formed randomly by the software at the beginning of the workshop, have the opportunity to reunite and reveal themselves during the final session of the workshop.

A further condition strengthens the group’s mutual bond and responsibility: the interface allows the daily ritual to begin only when seven-tenths of the participants are connected at the same time.

THE EXHIBIT

Data Meditations was a key experience, and as a research center we are working on the next iterations. To disseminate the results and make them accessible to large audiences, we designed an art installation which showcased in two different exhibits:

–> Artistic Technological Investigations, organized and promoted by Gruppo78 at the Museo d’Arte Moderna U. Carà, and curated by Maria Campitelli (Trieste, Italy);

–> Prove di R(i)esistenza, promoted by Fondazione Baruchello, and curated by Ilaria Conti (Rome, Italy).

The installation is composed by four sections:

<< DATA STORY >>. A generative info-aesthetic represents the set of data collected by participants during the 5 days ritual, in anonymized form, and allow viewers to read it. The info-aesthetic is printed large format, in vertical or horizontal version according to the space;

<< EXPERIENCE >>. A video allows viewers to experience a session of data-meditation as it was designed for the workshop;

<< DIARY >>. An excerpt from the etherpad – a platform for collective writing that was used during the workshop by participants to keep a shared diary of their experiences – becomes a poster. The texts and names of the authors are anonymized in respect of an intimate and experience;

<< NEAR FUTURE >>. A speculative design module in which four objects from a near future scenario tell us about a world in which Data Meditations is a common practice (module realized for Prove di (Ri)esistenza). 

Artistic Technological Investigations [Trieste, Museo d’Arte Moderna U. Carà]

Prove di R(i)esistenza [Roma, Fondazione Baruchello]

CREDITS

Concept by: HER: she Loves Data

Coordinated by: Salvatore Iaconesi, Oriana Persico, Daniele Bucci

With the support of: Leonardo Gerritse

SAVE THE DATE!

If you are interested in data, future and rituals, on October the 30th HER: She Loves Data will organize the first webinar about Data Meditation with prof. Luca Chittaro. Keep in touch on our social media!

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