(Vanessa and Martin) got in touch with me in January 2020 about contributing to their annual group exhibition Control the Virus 03
. I had been wanting to do a data visualisation project for a long time and I’m fascinated with Space Weather in general and how life begins and ends with the Sun. The main aim of the project was to create an aesthetic language that goes beyond the way we visualise scientific and or astronomical information: a visceral way of interpreting space weather, rather than an educational one (though I spoke to astrophysicists at the ESA and the Leiden Observatory to make sure my interpretation of the data wasn’t wildly off).
After I’d proposed it I had to figure out how to do it. I had a load of limitations: it had to update in real-time from six different databases, it had to be accessible online, it couldn’t be as intricate as my offline work, it had to look the same on mobile, it had to be quick to load. So, I ended up deciding on a node-based visual programming web tool called Cables.gl because it was so intuitive, with a really helpful community and took the pressure off of finding someone to code it from the ground up. It took me almost a year, but I did it.
I see a lot of my work as data visualisation in some sense, whether using the elements of audio broken down into frequencies, pitch and amplitude to drive real-time live visuals or a wider more artistic interpretation of text used to inform an artwork.
In the case of Heliocene, the uninterrupted stream of data is thanks to Open Data, an amazing and necessary initiative, made available by Space Weather Prediction Centre. I would like to do this again with Venus or Mars maybe.