Day-to-Day Data – ‘an exhibition of artists who collect, list, database and absurdly analyse the data of everyday life’, was Harrison’s first major curatorial project. It developed as a way of further exploring the ideas at the core of her practice, and as a way of bringing together a group of artists who shared similar interests. The project featured newly commissioned works by twenty artists and comprised a gallery-based exhibition touring to three UK venues, a publication and a website.
The idea for Day-to-Day Data began to emerge towards the end of my postgraduate study at Goldsmiths College in 2003. I had developed an interest, within my own practice, in the documentation and analysis of small or insignificant events from within my own daily routine, creating and manipulating what I termed the ‘data of everyday life’.
I was reaching the end of a year-long durational project called The Daily Quantification Records; where each day I collected data about my daily habits and bodily state. I was interested in the way the experience of a day could be quantified and abstractly represented through the information displayed.
I consider the idea of Day-to-Day Data as two parts which can be broken down and analysed separately: the day-to-day and the data, the subject matter and the methodology. This publication aims to explore the contrasts and crossovers between what the artists have chosen to study and the way in which they have chosen to study it. And how, through the application of a scientific or methodical approach to objects, events or experiences which a normal scientist (or normal person, for that matter) may well overlook, can lead to an absurd or humorous new vision of the everyday life we are all accustomed to.
For this publication, all of the Day-to-Day Data artists have been asked to write about their projects in terms of these two distinct areas. Considering first what has drawn them to the subject matter of their investigation and then revealing their own data collection and analysis methodology.
A thorough exploration of the two areas of the Day-to-Day Data theme is provided through two specially commissioned essays: Ben Highmore, the authority on everyday life theory, looks at the varied subject matter of Day-to-Day Data in his essay Unprocessed Data: Everyday Life in the Singular. Kris Cohen, sociologist and researcher into the ritual of photoblogging on the web, addresses the question of why artists have chosen to create and work with data in his essay Better the Data you Know…
Between March 2001 and March 2002 I ate 1,640 meals and snacks. Between September 2002 and September 2003 I travelled 9,236 kilometres on London Transport. Since 22 April 2002 I have swum 245 kilometres in my local swimming pool. In 2003 I walked 2,269 kilometres, drank 559 alcohol drinks, produced 7,784 gaseous emissions, read 2,185 pages from novels and received 1,053 text messages. So far in 2005 I have sworn on 89 occasions.1
I can recite all this because for several years I have been religiously documenting small and insignificant events occurring within my everyday routine; experiences most people take for granted each day. Through the act of recording and noting these things down, I have assigned them an elevated status. Immortalising the ephemeral and, over time, building up a vast database of information about my own life.2 We are all the only true experts on our own lives – I have decided to utilise and strengthen this expertise through my ongoing investigations and the new work produced for Day-to-Day Data.
The following pages show the equipment required for the new project. The Daily Data Logger is the character I have created to carry out the data collection process. She is an enthusiastic, data-collecting obsessive so keen on measuring / quantifying the things that surround her that she permanently dresses in a tracksuit (for easy manoeuvrability) and wears a utility belt jam-packed with data collecting devices. Throughout the day she records the required information onto the Daily Data Log sheets.
This project (unlike previous works) has a live and evolving representation in the gallery space. The Daily Data Display Wall is a carefully compiled collection of lights, monitors, sounds, sirens, objects, colour-charts and LED displays which are switched on / off, removed or adjusted, dependant on the data recorded on the Daily Data Log sheet and emailed to the gallery each day. The project is intrinsically linked to the gallery as a system and relies heavily on the gallery staff. At the start of each day they must follow the instructions given to reconfigure the Display Wall, thereby assisting in the creation of a fluctuating reflection of my own daily life.
1. Correct as of 20 May 2005. ↩