Artists Data Day – Getting the measure of Reading

10am-4pm on Saturday 17 September 2016, Waterhouse Room, Reading Town Hall

A one day workshop for artists and technologists to meet as makers and explore ways to use Reading’s vast pool of data as a raw material for making art.  The best idea (voted by the participants) will receive £500 funding to bring it to fruition and exhibit it as part of Reading’s Year of Culture.

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Data as a raw material

The internet holds vast amounts of data, measuring Reading in dozens of ways.  Just 3 examples are:

  • Current location of buses and status of bus service across Reading
  • The number of currently occupied spaces in Reading’s car parks
  • Antiviral, antibiotics and decongestants in wastewater treatment plants and receiving rivers in the Thames catchment

Artists will be able to explore this rich landscape, getting hands-on with tools such as 3D printing, sensors (we can create new data!), Minecraft, and virtual reality headsets, and open themselves to the possibilities of incorporating data into their art practice.

Assisted by the technologists, perhaps inspired by examples of how other artists have used data, Reading artists are asked to propose new work for the Year of Culture that uses and/or creates Reading-related data.

At the end of the day the group will vote for the best idea, which will receive £500 funding to produce and exhibit the work in December 2016 as part of the finale to Reading’s Year of Culture.

Here’s just one example, from artist Nathalie Miebach:

Interested?  Read on and unleash your inner geek…

Whether you are in it for the competition, or simply want to explore using Reading-themed data in your work we want this one day workshop to be inspiring, provocative and fun for everyone involved.  To get the very best out of the day it will help to come prepared…

  1. We have provided examples of artists using data, and background material on the different technologies below in our forum (click here)– please dive into the rabbit hole to get a feel for what is possible, and to start getting some ideas for the kind of work you may want to create.
  2. Please join the conversation in our forum (click here) – if you have any questions, suggestions for content, or thoughts on how the day should be run then the forum is the place to talk about it.

What kind of data is available? – Mark Stanley

What can I do with a 3D printer? – Alex Gibson

3D printers are incredible tools to make tangible objects straight from the virtual world, with minimal mess and with incredible control of the finished output.  ‘3D printing’ can describe several different technologies, almost all are ‘additive manufacturing’, where objects are built layer by layer directly from raw materials, not carved from a block.  This releases many limitations on the kind of shapes you can make.

As the theory goes, ‘Complexity is free’ – 3D models derived from raw data, scanned or sampled from the real world, or created programmatically, can be blended with 3D objects made using ‘traditional’ CAD packages, and designers, artists, programmers and engineers can collaborate to make an object that can be both highly personalised, and highly compatible with other components.

As with any making process, there are some practical limitations, and so a few internal rules of thumb to bear in mind which will hugely increase your chances of success while experimenting with 3D printing.  We will meet these head on, show you how to access local and industrial 3D printing services, and hope to inspire you to use 3D printing creatively as part of your projects.

Building sensors and creating my own data – Mark Stanley

Visualizing data in real and virtual worlds-  Mike (TheBee) Beardmore

Mike is a Maker and Data consultant with experience transforming and communicating data for use in business and home-brew projects.

This session will be about exploring opportunities for using data in both visual and audio transformations. We will look at visualising data in the virtual and real world, we are delighted to have Neil C. Smith attending. Neil wants to help & learn how artists might use his creation to interact with data input and outputting. A multi-year project to create this cross-platform audio and image transformation tool, the latest release of  is free, powerful and flexible. PraxisLive is partnered with TinkerForge providing a range of hardware to connect data with LED’s, Servo’s, Switches and other real world interfacing.

This is great opportunity to get involved with the developer of such a powerful utility.

There is also a chance to look at how Minecraft and 2nd Life can help artists who have some experience with these. You will need to have a suitable client installed on your laptop, and accounts on 2nd Life or Minecraft if this is your target.

PraxisLive is a free download for OS-X, Windows and Linux from