We Need Us

October 2014

I was co-commissioned by The Space and the Open Data Institute to create a new online artwork using live data from Zooniverse.

We Need Us is a real-time online animated artwork that explores big data. It concentrates on metadata which it draws from the activities of Zooniverse’s million+ participants, to create an ever-growing environment of sounds and animated forms. Unlike traditional data-visualisation which helps us understand and make sense of information from large data sets, ‘We Need Us’ explores the unique properties of the data itself. The work explores the distinct, living qualities and particular characteristics data might have, such as growth, velocity and fragility. What is the meaning of data beyond its value-laden content?

The work was developed at the Open Data Institute and launched online at TED in Rio, October 2014. Please sign up to the newsletter here if you’d like to be updated for private screenings.

We Need Us has featured in Right Here Right Now at The Lowry, Manchester (2015-2016), Big Bang Data at Somerset House (2015-16) and Big Bang Data at Art/Science Museum Singapore (2016), and numerous data festivals and events internationally. Please contact us for details of showing the work.

Article from TED on the making of We Need Us.

Update October 2018

We Need Us has been re-commissioned by NEoN (North East of North). The new commission has enabled me to create five new sound compositions, and to update the work to run with data from a new API that Zooniverse projects now use. Visit it online at weneedus.org

More about the project is in this interview from Ana Hine at NEoN.

The 15 Zooniverse projects which provide the data from the dynamic animation engine are:

Exoplanet Explorers
Gravity Spy
Monkey Health Explorer
Hunt for Galaxy Clusters
Floating Forests
Galaxy Zoo
Milky Way Project
Notes from Nature
Planet Four: Ridges
Beluga Bits
Invader ID
Snapshot Serengeti
Solar Stormwatch II
African American Civil War
Variable Star Zoo

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