When considering an aesthetic for cloud data, it is easy to picture a large sprawling mass of interlocking nodes, mutating and all sharing information at the same time. With so many sources contributing to this abstract cloud at once, our picture of cloud data can seem ‘noisy’ with each element making sense individually yet quickly becoming unrecognizable en masse. Visualising this cloud is paradoxical in that the functional role of the cloud is one of personal hypervisibility, revealing locations, preferences and other markers of subjectivity, but via a process that remains opaque. How can these processes of cloud formation and deformation be rendered visible and what kind of topography does this produce? Such questions require both practical and theoretical responses, hence the collaboration between aesthetic practice and theory that underpins this paper.
Grace Kingston has mined shared data and responded aesthetically to such questions in her latest project – Here you are. In this paper she will discuss her deployment of the mining, imaging and social politics revolving around these data spaces, where privacy and anonymity are assumed but poorly understood. Michael Goddard will respond to Grace’s project as the making visible of the invisible penumbras or noise underlying the contemporary networked production of subjectivity. Such data visualisation aesthetics will be presented as the obverse of data mining for commercial and surveillance purposes as, instead of searching for particular subjective contents to track and exploit, it reflexively makes visible the very forms through which this circulation takes place.