Curator, writer and producer, Dr Stacey Hunter, is one of the five responders to the call for proposals to participate in the Space and Satellites Artist in Residence programme at Inspace.
During the artist residency, Stacey worked with Ben Hymers, a Weaver and Rug Tufter, creating a data-driven tapestry design they call Everyone. It was developed at the intersection of craft, science and the decorative arts using data which tracked and mapped the impact of the COVID-19 virus on air quality over a 50-day period.
Stacey and Ben are both interested in how traditional crafts practices can be data driven. They worked with data visualisation designers Ray Interactive and scientists Professor Roy Thompson and Massimo Vieno. By looking at data sets derived from space and satellites including NASA Worldview, the project tracked and mapped the impact of the virus on air quality over a 50 day period.
The beginning of the residency took place in parallel with one of the world’s biggest natural experiments, a time when whole new datasets had unexpectedly been created. Everyone pulled together insights from data produced starting on the first day of lockdown in Scotland, 23rd or March 2020, until the end of June 2020.
In this time, the Everyone collaborators examined data derived from three separate vantage points: global, regional and local, creating a narrative about the impact of lockdown in relation to significant reductions in Nitrogen Oxide (NO2). The global border represents a large geographic area at one moment in time using satellite imagery and data from NASA Worldview which represents Carbon Monoxide. At the national level, the mid-section of the design represents data produced by Massino Vieno’s chemical transport modelling computations. These interpret levels of NO2 for the duration of lockdown*. At street level, the hyperlocal data is a time series taken from kerb-side monitors at St John’s Road in Edinburgh which record NO2 nitrogen monoxide concentration**.
* With thanks to Massimo Vieno and UKCEK for this super-computer derived modelling.
** With thanks to Prof Roy Thompson for his help in interpreting this data.
THE CREATIVE PROCESS
Inspired by the processes of weaving and its early links to computing, Everyone brings together the complexity of data science with the beauty and elegance of the weaving process at a scale that feels familiar and engaging. Protest and Climate Change are inseparable at the beginning of the 21st century; the aim of this tapestry design was to speak to audiences in a fresh and exciting way about the reality of air pollution. Design and craft have had powerful connections to protest, as material artefacts that embody powerful messages from the Suffragette Penny to hand-embroidered protest banners and AIDS ribbons.
Everyone brings together various time and space configurations in the form of a stacked data series that echoes the Powers Of 10 films produced by Charles and Ray Eames in 1977. Colour strongly influences the way we perceive information, especially when that information is multidimensional. Through this process, Stacey and Ben learned about how choosing colours to visually represent data is important in presenting scientific results accurately and effectively. The final digitally animated tapestry cartoon is a layering of time stamped data representing levels of NO2 set to the music of Tchaikovsky’s Waltz Of The Flowers.
COLLABORATIONS & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS
The Everyone team is a cross disciplinary collaboration between Design Curator Dr Stacey Hunter; Weaver Ben Hymers; Data Visualisation Designers Sam Healy and Brendan McCarthy of Ray Interactive; Environmental Geophysicist Professor Roy Thompson and Air Pollution Modeller Dr Massimo Vieno. The team shares an interest in science, creativity and collaboration.
Video model by Dr Massimo Vieno, UKCEH Edinburgh. This work was supported by the Natural Environment Research Council award number NE/R016429/1 as part of the UK-SCAPE programme delivering National Capability.
Data visualization and design by Ray Interactive
Dr Stacey Hunter
Stacey curates, writes and produces within a design context; her collaborative exhibitions and projects are known and appreciated for their unconventional approach and broad appeal. She is committed to the development of contemporary design culture in Scotland and enlivening design and craft discourses. In 2015 she founded Local Heroes to present the work of outstanding designers working in Scotland. She collaborates with a diverse range of organisations from airports and art hubs to hotels, hospitals and business associations. In 2017 V&A Dundee named her one of their Design Champions; in 2018 she won Creative Edinburgh’s Leadership Award and in 2019 she was selected by Cove Park to visit Japan for 2 months as design curator in residence at Arts Initiative Tokyo and Creative Residency Arita. Her PhD was awarded by The University of Edinburgh’s Architecture School in 2015. www.staceyhunter.com
Ben is a Weaver and Rug Tufter who has worked on several high-profile projects, designs and exhibitions for Dovecot. He holds an MA (Hons) History of Art degree from the University of Edinburgh, studied Classical Painting Techniques at the Michelangelo Institute in Florence, and time-travelled in Channel 4’s BAFTA nominated 1940s House. Interested in the classical and the magical, Ben is also a Close-up Magician and his work champions the importance of traditional arts and crafts practices in an increasingly digital and distant society. See more in this video where Ben describes the ideas behind his first piece Penelope.
Prof Roy Thompson FRSE
Roy is Professor Emeritus and Honorary Professorial Fellow of the University of Edinburgh’s School of GeoSciences. He taught geophysics for 35 years; established the Geophysics & Meteorology degree; set (and marked!) more than 1600 different exam questions; and published two books and 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers before retiring in 2008.
Dr Massimo Vieno
Massimo is an Air Pollution Modeller based at UKCEH Edinburgh. His current role is to lead the development of an atmospheric chemistry transport model to simulate the atmospheric composition, and atmosphere surface exchange of pollutants in the UK and Europe; for long term averages (multiple years) and for specific pollution episodes (hours). His BSc Physics and PhD Physics are both awarded by the University of Edinburgh.