Artist Paul Millhouse-Smith has been commissioned by the Centre for Environmental Data Analysis (CEDA) to inspire collective action on sustainable digital research infrastructure.
CEDA is encouraging a wide range of people, at any career stage and from any research area, to join one of four creative workshops facilitated by Paul, in January and February 2023. These participatory workshops, as well as creative exercises to complete in your own time, will help to shape and create Paul’s final art piece.
Are you involved in undertaking research or supporting research? Do you have a particular interest in digital research infrastructure and net zero?
Sustainable digital research infrastructure
From supercomputers to staff laptops, CEDA is working towards making all the digital tools and practices used for UK research carbon neutral. A roadmap towards carbon neutral digital research infrastructure will be developed, with involvement of UK researchers from across disciplines, and take an integrated and coordinated approach.
To meet the ambitious sustainability target – of reaching net zero digital research infrastructure by 2040 – a broad transformation will be required. The arts have a role in this transformation as a medium through which people can consider their values, shift attitudes, reflect on issues, and find connection.
Art to inspire collective action
Paul Millhouse-Smith, a multi-disciplinary artist and technologist who explores our relationship with the past and new technologies, has envisaged a physical and virtual artwork that will stimulate engaging conversations across the research community between November 2022 and June 2023 – and encourage people to look at the challenge of net zero for digital research infrastructure from a fresh perspective.
Inspired by some of the world’s earliest examples of narrative art and information sharing, via pottery, Paul will create six one-metre-high vases using cutting-edge 3D ceramic printing technology. They will be decorated in a way that reflects the digital research infrastructure transformation and the perspectives of the workshop participants.
As one of the oldest human inventions, the practice of pottery has developed alongside civilization. Ceramics is an ancient and enduring art-form, which is now being revolutionised by the latest printing technologies and digital design practices.
Clay, as a sustainable material, has the ability to change and take on different forms. Using clay for this commission is a metaphor for lasting change – and the change that is required for reaching net zero digital research infrastructure.
A 3D playable virtual environment will also be designed by Paul, to be experienced through a web browser, virtual reality headset, or film projections. Hologram-like versions of the vases will be displayed inside a re-imagined digital infrastructure environment, for virtual visitors to explore and interact with. A way for people to experience the artwork in their own time and place.
The physical vases and virtual reality space will be combined, to form an immersive installation and visitor experience in summer 2023 at The Reel Store – the UK’s first permanent digital art gallery, in Coventry.
Creative participatory workshops – register your interest to attend
Through a series of creative workshops with people from across the UK digital research infrastructure community, Paul will facilitate making sessions and capture conversations related to the critical decisions around the work we do.
People will have the opportunity to explore with Paul what they hold important about research, digital infrastructure, and the world we live in – in the context of our rapidly changing climate.
Using a variety of techniques – like observational drawing, mark making and collage – workshop participants will think about the impressions we make and the legacy that we leave behind.
Throughout the workshop, participants will be encouraged to think about existing or speculative contributions to the digital research infrastructure roadmap, and to contribute to lively and open discussion.
You will need some paper, pencils and pens – or you can use some of your own art supplies if you have them.
Each workshop will be about 3 hours, and held online using Zoom.
There are four workshops available, and participants only need to attend one:
- Friday 27 January 1-4pm
- Monday 30 January 1-4pm
- Friday 3 February 10am-1pm
- Tuesday 7 February 10am-1pm
If you are unable to attend any of these dates, there will be an opportunity to complete some of the creative exercises ‘offline’ in your own time.
Find out more information and register your interest via the online form, and please indicate if you would like to join a workshop or complete the exercises in your own time.
For workshop-related questions, media enquiries, or questions about the Net Zero Digital Research Infrastructure Scoping Project and the art commission, contact CEDA’s Communication’s Manager Poppy Townsend (via the CEDA helpdesk).