In a world overloaded with data, it is difficult to make sense of the noise, and as arts organisations generate more data, new ways of seeing are needed.

Last year we launched an open call for artists to create new work that explores the themes of networks, relationships, intermediaries and their impact on arts organisations. The artists chosen will be given access to the prototype ArtsAPI tool and the data derived from the Social Network Analysis process that has so far been completed with seven leading arts organisations – Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art, Culture24, Redeye, Blast Theory, Forma, FutureEverything, and Islington Mill.

We are thrilled to announce the commissioning of artists Ed Carter and David Cranmer, who will create a new work, Smoke Signals.

Smoke Signals takes data beyond the confines of the screen to visualise digital interaction. Turning the data of seven arts organisations into a visual and sonic experience, Smoke Signals invokes a physical presence of data streams, with each signal and sound indicating the movements of data within the contemporary online network.

Twelve smoke-ring cannons will create a transient sculptural form inspired by the Polybius Square cypher. The sub-sonic frequencies used to create the rings will be part of a broader evolving sound piece, with each tone and smoke ring relating to the communication activities of the ArtsAPI contributors. Using abstracted email archives as the dataset, a single central speaker will affect the smoke rings where their paths cross, reflecting the activities of the contributing partners.

As such, turbulence affecting the smoke rings represents online interactions, resulting in a constantly evolving visual and sonic experience.

The inspiration behind ArtsAPI is the hypothesis that many arts organisations can generate, but can not effectively articulate or evidence, significant value through the relationships they create and sustain. With this commission, ArtsAPI steps beyond data visualisation, reports and infographics, towards work that explores the tangible presence of data.

About the Artists
Ed Carter devises and creates interdisciplinary projects that are context-specific, with a focus on sound, collaboration, process and technology. He takes patterns, associations, rhythms and chronology, and uses these to form the structures of new site- specific projects. Much of Ed’s work is inspired by the notion employed by architect and composer Iannis Xenakis, who believed a single artistic thought can be represented mathematically through any medium.

David Cranmer has been creating electronic and mechanical sculptures since 1998. These have been used to delight audiences in a variety of venues worldwide. He has produced installations for events including Southbank Ether Festival, Kinetica Art Fair, Frieze Art Fair and HKW Worldtronics Berlin. Time spent in the special effects industry has fine tuned his love of dangerous machinery and dramatic engineering, and a keen interest in experimental audio has led to many sculptures taking the form of unusual musical instruments.


Photo: Moritz Stefaner, Drew Hemment and Studio NAND: emoto, 2012