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Emily Carr University granted funding to study the art of data

Emily Carr University's Studio for Extensive Aesthetics was awarded almost $57,000 from this year's BC Knowledge Development Fund.

Emily Carr University granted funding to study the art of data
Photo by Jeff Werner via Flickr

Emily Carr University of Art + Design has received funding to study data aesthetics, which looks at the visual and cultural effects of how society manages and uses data, according to a press release.

Emily Carr University's Studio for Extensive Aesthetics was awarded almost $57,000 from this year's BC Knowledge Development Fund. The money will go toward purchasing equipment for a dedicated research facility and the project supports the work of the Canada Research Chair in art and design technology.

"Funding a diverse range of research projects at public post-secondary institutions such as Emily Carr University allows students to get hands-on experience in applying their knowledge,” said Advanced Education Minister Amrik Virk. “Investments such as this one will help keep our province at the leading edge of research and technology, benefiting British Columbians."

Since entering the digital era, people have relied on visual interpretations of data, according to the release. The wide variety of data collected by governments, corporations and individuals needs to be presented in a way that is easy to understand. Data visualization is a way of finding meaning within large sets of data and making it easier to understand.

"How a person perceives data is increasingly important in our modern, information-driven society,” said Emily Carr University of Art and Design president Ron Burnett. “The provincial government's funding of research at Emily Carr will support our work on studying the effects of data visualization and aesthetics."

The research project, led by associate professor Amber Frid-Jimenez, applies artistic research and design projects to explore the way data appears visually. This is a growing research area with the potential to make data more meaningful. The studio also fosters critical debate about ethics and the cultural importance of data use.

“Designers and artists play a key role in helping us understand the aesthetic and cultural effects that the massive data flows of the 21st century have on our lives, now and in the future,” said Frid-Jimenez.

The three key themes of the project include the aesthetic effects of visualizing data, the cultural and ethical implications of data collection and the use of data-driven artworks to engage the public in thinking about information culture.

The BC Knowledge Development Fund has awarded six public post-secondary institutions in B.C. with a total of over $40 million for more than 100 research infrastructure projects in 2014, with more awards expected in 2015.

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