Digital Datascapes

Every hour since noon on June 21, 1999 Stephen Cartwright has recorded the exact latitude, longitude and elevation of his position on the earth with a handheld GPS (global positioning system) receiver. Cartwright creates multi-dimensional maps and objects from the collected data and offers a unique perspective of one person’s transit through life. His records now include more than 100,000 hourly recordings that span several continents and include some 25,000 miles travelled by bicycle. Through recording of various other elements of his life Cartwright creates fictional landscapes and topographies – icebergs from bicycle tour data, mountain ranges from running mileage and islands from photographs of scabs.

Cartwright’s works are realized through the intersection of analog and digital technologies – from the pencil on paper of his hourly location log to the 3D computer modeling and CNC fabrication techniques he uses to realize his sculptural work. In a time when so much of life can be recorded automatically with an app on a phone, Cartwright takes the time to record various aspects of his life manually before translating the work into digital technologies. Manual recording reinforces the personal aspects of his work and its reflective nature. What was assumed to be true based on memory may not be validated by the collected data. With amassed data Cartwright utilizes various digital visualization techniques to create his work. These visualizations are more than just an illustration of the data—they create new forms and topographies. Data-driven work and visualization provides the potential for scaling not possible in traditional mediums—a single work can explore minute detail and vast spaces simultaneously. Cartwright’s practice highlights the divergence of natural and man-made laws and systems, and perception versus fact.

Cartwright will discuss his work and process with a special emphasis data recording and sculptural visualization.

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