Art as Data Activism

Art as a form of political engagement is a proven formula, but what about art as a form of data activism? Can art help us better understand and question the politics of everyday data flows?

In the current context of datafication – the turning of every aspect of our lives into data points for further processing – artistic practice offers diverse ways to foster public engagement with data. From the early examples of the Net.Art movement to more recent artistic interrogations of automated decision-making systems, the speakers in this panel will offer different perspectives on the role of art in questioning the power asymmetries created as a result of the use of data by governments, corporations, and platforms.


DATACTIVE is a research project and a research collective exploring the politics of big data broadly defined. We are researchers, meaning we exercise both curiosity and scientific rigor in exploring social reality and its manifold web manifestations.

About the speakers

Manu Luksch is a Resident Artist at Somerset House, Artist in Residence 2020/21 at Birkbeck’s School of Law, and founding member of ambientTV.NET (Ambient Information Systems), a long-time collaboration with Mukul Patel. She was formerly Open Society Fellow 2018 and visiting Fellow at Goldsmiths, University of London.

Karla Zavala is a designer and digital project manager from Peru, specializing in UX, QA, and communications. She holds a BA in Communication for Social Development at the University of Lima and an MA in Media Arts Cultures from Aalborg University.

Adriaan Odendaal is a Multimedia designer and web-developer from South Africa. He holds a BA in Visual Studies and Sociology from Stellenbosch University and is a recent MA in Media Arts Cultures graduate from Aalborg University.

Viola van Alphen is an activist, writer, and the creative director and curator of Manifestations, an annual Art & Tech festival in Eindhoven, the Netherlands. With themes like Will the Future Design Us?, E-Fashion, Robots, Internet-of-Women-Things, Superpower-to-the-People, Technology-as-Your-Perfect-Boyfriend, the festival addresses issues that create controversy and encourage the visitors to be more actively engaged in technology and the role they want technology to have and to not have in the future.

Lonneke van der Velden (moderator) is Assistant Professor Global Digital Cultures at the University of Amsterdam and part of DATACTIVE.

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