Simone Gumtau presents IConiC at CHEAD Meeting

Dr. Simone Gumtau was invited to present her design work for the IConiC project at 2016’s Council for Higher Education in Art & Design (CHEAD) membership meeting.

The meeting, entitled “Data and Narrative”, on 15th December was all about exploring and discussing what the world of data means to the art & design community.

Questions posed by the organisers for the day included:

  • How do we engage with a world shaped by machine data, algorithmic analysis and automated decision support?
  • How can ‘big data’ inform design research? How do we evaluate our activities and engage with data in frameworks such as TEF and REF?
  • Are there reductionist implications in over-reliance on metric approaches?
  • How do we raise our game in combining and underpinning our rich narrative tradition with multi-critical approaches?
  • How can art and design enrich data through narrativisation, visualisation, and the design of new forms of productivity, social engagement and accountability?

Dr. Gumtau was invited to present her design work for the IConiC project – an innovative transdisciplinary collaboration between art & design and engineering. In her talk, Dr. Gumtau critiques the notion of data as a representation of universal ‘truth’, and introduces ways of understanding data in a ‘narrative and multi-faceted expressive form’. She argues for a human centred way of designing for data, and to experiment with other interesting ways to communicate meaning in data beyond graphs and dashboards – something the design community would be particularly well positioned to do.

The day was very successful, with a number of high quality presentations and panel discussions. The CHEAD network is now looking to set up a working group on this topic, which ultimately seeks to engage with policy making. One of the topics of the day that will probably affect all of HE was Professor Vicky Gunn’s presentation (Glasgow School of Art) on the way metric data is being used in to measure accountability – in preparation for TEF. The general culture of data driven results and performance measures has to be continually discussed and questioned, and a certain literacy in these topics appears to be essential.

“It was great to see the Art & Design in HE community pick up these very timely topics, and to have the opportunity to join the call for the discipline to get involved in these,” says Simone. “My view is that our approaches and methods in Art& Design have a lot to offer here, and it is critical that we do. There has to be engagement with the complexities of meaning and ethical considerations in data, and we must not be satisfied with providing a glossy design that seeks to merely package data.”

Read more about the IConiC project here.