Stephen Bennett

MA Art and Science

Stephen Bennett

My work explores the interaction between art, science and politics. Ice caps are melting, species are being wiped out, societies are ageing and inequality is entrenched. There is abundant data on this, yet political decisions are not always based on this information. I investigate whether art can bridge the gap between science and public decision-making.

Data is increasingly used to understand our lives, yet is also increasingly alienating in its complexity and vastness. Perhaps because of this, a ‘post-truth’ counter trend has emerged and is argued to have influenced both the UK referendum and USA presidential election.

I have previously produced interactive climate data visualisations, asking Tate visitors to paint pixels of data to engender a sense of agency where climate impacts may happen thousands of miles away. On a residency at CERN I created a photographic atlas of the prestigious particle physics laboratory. I showed the images in a multitude of kaleidoscopes so people could have their own intimate experience of a scientific institution usually preserved for the scientific elite.

My work in the degree show, “Who Saw the Deep”, takes geological information buried in online data repositories and brings it into the real world.

Advanced digital fabrication techniques impose the data onto dug-up earth and clay tablets. Some tablets are presented in the Crossing Fields show, and some are buried in the forests, fields and settlements they relate to.

My hypothesis is that participatory art and embodied data can increase agency and engagement in science.

This requires getting outside of the art gallery. The exact locations of the clay tablets are provided on my website in an interactive geology map created on Google My Maps. The work simultaneously exists in the art gallery, online, and in the neighbourhoods of London, Hertfordshire and Essex.

 

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