Incarnations of data: the metaphysics of morphogenesis

subversive strategies of data visualizations

The course expands on Edgar Wind's elaborations around the idea of Embodiment by considering that, the understanding that information can be encapsulated in data-sculptures, opens up the possibility of discussing how these data-objects, as well as the procedures and tools used for their generation and fabrication, can shake the reductionist objectivity of crystallized understandings of the concept and strategies of 'data visualization', of 'information visualization'.

What will you learn?

Module 1: Initial reflections with questions about why we consider mapping the textual or numerical into the visual-along with exploring in what ways data can be mapped in order to investigate the formulation of an aesthetic of information visualization, questioning what is the critical and artistic value of works in data visualization, considering that Aesthetics examines issues of sensation and perception. It is argued that inquiring into the aesthetics of information visualization involves investigating the judgment used to decide what is valuable in the work, according to the senses, placing this effort as essentially opposed to that usually applied in areas such as science and engineering for data visualization.

Module 2: Exploration of the notions of actualization and potency in Aristotle proposing a reflection on the metaphysics of morphogenesis in relation to the use of data to generate form, in dialogue with the notion of Embodiment in Edgar Wind, weaving a reflection on how a data-sculpture can (like an image in Edgar Wind's philosophy) play a role in poetics comparable to the role that the experiment plays in the work of a scientist in a laboratory. At this stage of the course, one is invited to browse recent works by the artist, including 'Data-nests'(2021-2022), 'If You Hold a Stone'(2020), 'Data-Confluences'(2021), 'Geolocated-Love'(2019), and 'Political-Crystals'(2018-2019). The term poetics refers to the conceptual, narrative, and contextual qualities related to the production, display, and reception of an artwork that are closely intertwined with the artist's intentions and skills involving techniques, procedures, and discourses.

Module 3: Exploration of strategies and tools used as part of the poetics of the work 'Data-Nests' (2021) in which data-nests can be seen as embodiments of data, embodiments of information, considering questioning and subverting the strategies that reinforce the human fetish for the numerical-computational (binary) as measurable, precise, readable. We propose to use strategies and tools for morphogenetic design involved in both design and production, such as the Rhinoceros/Grasshopper platform, 3D printer, or 4-axis CNC milling machine, which would be at the center of the reflection when we intend to invite to meditate on the metaphysics of data visualization.  It is the tools that are responsible for numerical precision and that is why they are central to any intention of subversive use.


Previous knowledge of any software for 3D modeling and familiarity with any strategies for data visualization using platforms such as Processing, and Rhino/Grasshopper.

  • 165 STUDENTS
  • AUDIO: Portuguese
  • SUBTITLES: English

Clarissa Ribeiro

Multimedia artist and researcher with an interest in information and communication dynamics crossing diverse scales that impact human, non-human behavior, and other emergent phenomena at the macro scale. In her most recent projects, she has been exploring the metaphysics of information visualization in subversive morphogenetic strategies that welcome the animist to navigate ecologies as cosmologies. She has a Ph.D. in Arts from ECA USP and was a Fulbright post-doctoral fellow at UCLA's Art|Sci Center and Lab. She is a member of the ART|SCI Collective directed by Victoria Vesna and James Gimzewski. She is a Professor at UNIFOR in the city of Fortaleza where she coordinates the LIP Laboratório de Inovação e Prototipagem and hosts the LASER talks of Leonardo ISAST since 2017. She collaborates as an ad hoc reviewer for the Leonardo and Technoetic Arts periodicals, and for the Leonardo LABS project. She is attached to Roy Ascott Studio in Shanghai as a senior lecturer with support from artist Pete Townshend (The Who).