[ISEA2011] Paper: Fionnuala Conway & Linda Doyle – DATAmap: Exploring gender balance in Ireland through interactive multimedia installation


Contemporary culture produces volumes of data such as research results and often this information remains inaccessible to the public or is presented in a manner that is difficult to digest or unengaging. The traditional presentation style, for example, of presenting data as numbers and statistics is often inadequate in its ability to engage the public. In attempting to engage the public with information, the challenge is to make it appealing, impactful and memorable by making it personally relevant and meaningful.

Art and technology offers new and alternative possibilities for presentation and audience engagement. Artist researchers are addressing the use of computers to advance the presentation and organisation of large volumes of complex information by creating visualisation methods that incorporate experimental two-dimensional, three-dimensional, time-based, meaningful and metaphoric visualisation. They are also looking at ways to extend the physical interface by looking at ways to read human actions and ways to exploit the ways in which people understand the world through their body. The artist working with multimedia and technology can exploit these possibilities to present a complex view of many layers of information in an accessible and meaningful way.

DATAmap is an immersive interactive multimedia installation that presents factual information on the levels of representation in Irish State bodies, with a focus on gender balance. It is the novel result of an exploration by the artist into how the interactive installation could be a physical platform for the presentation of the complex set of local, regional and national data on the gender composition of State bodies around Ireland. This research and resulting artwork represents a step forward in the creation of art for social change by presenting an interdisciplinary and novel mixed-method approach that informs the creation of artwork to raise awareness of gender balance in Ireland. It sets out to explore the possibilities for applying art and technology to the creation of art that addresses social issues. In doing so, it explores the possibilities of an interdisciplinary approach to inform and develop an artistic practice that embraces other disciplines in order to expand the palette of artistic approaches and tools.

  • Dr. Fionnuala Conway is a musician/composer and multimedia artist. She has been lecturing on the M.Phil. in Music and Media Technologies course at Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland, since 2002 and was appointed Course Director in 2006. With a background in music and music technology, she has has worked as composer and performer on a number of theatre productions and produced work in a wide variety of forms, from traditional materials to interactive digital media, wearable technology, installations and theatre presentation, including Art of Decision and Urban Chameleon. Her PhD thesis, Exploring Citizenship through Art and Technology, focuses on the creative use of technology to generate awareness of citizenship (and other social issues), with a particular focus on interactive immersive physical environments. Art of Decision is the practical manifestation of Fionnuala’s thesis and includes 9 interactive installation rooms that present opinions and ideas about power and decision-making from a variety of research participants in an engaging, theatrical way.  artofdecision.net   Video: Art of Decision
  • Prof. Linda Doyle is Director of `CTVR/the telecommunications research centre’ and a faculty member in the School of Engineering in Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland. CTVR is a national centre comprising six different universities and involving over 100 researchers. Prof. Doyle’s research focuses on wireless networks, reconfigurable systems and spectrum management regimes. Prof. Doyle is an international leader in cognitive radio research and her group has built an international reputation in experimental cognitive radio work and shown how these new kinds of communications systems can strongly impact on society. In addition to mainstream telecommunications research Prof. Doyle has a significant interest in art and technology and has been involved in a wide range of collaborative interdisciplinary projects in the last decade. One of her current projects is focused on the 1953 film by Ray and Charles Eames- ‘A Communications Primer’.

Full text (PDF) p.  517-523