invisible matter

We present the first chapter of the Invisible Matter, a data research into the global contemporary art field. The first step we took was to analyze the institutions that use e-flux announcements to advertise their activities. This research does not pertain to portray a total image of the field but its specific segment. Our long term goal is not to stick with a specific source but to use a variety of sources and try to map the “invisible matter” of the global contemporary art, its actors and relations between them.

The goal of this project is to locate and describe the entities that produce art events as well as the printed matter and web sites that participate in the circulation of information and creation of the discourse about art. Although our motivation for this research is to observe the economical and political underpinnings of different segments of the art field, the database we are working on is looking to cover as wide a dataset as possible before making any claims toward the meaning of the data produced.

The map is based on the Google maps API and Google maps is based on Mercator projection. We have oriented the map south-up. Since this option is not provided by Google maps all the toponyms on the map are written up side down. Also, Google maps will interpret all interaction (except zoom) in reverse; left as right, up as down.

animated map of client activity
durration approximately 6 min

The animated map draws on live data in our database that is updated on a monthly basis. It displays all events announced on e-flux along time and (geographical) space. In this moment the geographical location of each event is assigned according to the primary location of the institution which doesn't always coincide with the location where the announced event took place. Therefore, the map shows the organizational source of the event, not necessarily the location of the event itself. The temporal data of the event is assigned to it according to the date when the event was published on e-flux.

For the purposes of this research we are developing a relational database from the analysis of announcement web pages published by e-flux from January 2000 until today. At this moment the database contains 2519 [institutions] that had published 18002 [events]*. The database schema we are working towards should consist of three classes of entities, with two types of relations.

[subjects] ——are contained in——> [events] ——are published by——> [institutions]

[Events] serve as the join table that makes it possible to produce a fairly complex network of entities. Because of the predicates these entities have (date of event's announcement, geolocation of institution etc.) we are able to see these relations along axes of time and space for instance.

The database schema, entities and the relationships contained therein represent our statements about, and our understanding of the content found on e-flux web pages, and other pages we used in our research. With best intentions to avoid mistakes, jump to conclusions in identifying, organizing, and connecting data points we are fully aware that there's much more work to be done on that front. The two visualizations presented are made with a validated dataset but we cannot guarantee 100% accuracy. In the coming months we will perform additional validation within the limits set by our funding.

* Individuals, projects and institutions are referred to as clients on e-flux, whereas we refer to them as institutions. Events, publications or other content published by clients is referred to as announcements while we refer to them as events. The number of clients and announcements on e-flux differs from our number because we have made corrections to remove duplicates present at e-flux.

a timeline of institutions' activity
January 2000 – November 2017

The list of institutions with total number of events in descending order is a non interactive visualization. The number of intuitions listed was decided on according to the cumulative number of events all the institutions published. On the vertical axis we show 214 institutions that have published 50% of all events published by 2519 institutions. On the horizontal axes we see the activity of institutions over time, starting from January 2000 until end of October 2017. If an individual institution published an event in a certain month it is recorded with a black square. The relative size of the square shows the number of events published by an individual institution in a month. At this moment the maximum number of events published in one month by a single institution has shown to be 6.
map wall

geographical distribution of institutions
January 2000 – November 2017

The map above shows the location of 214 institutions that have published 50% of all events published by 2519 institutions also analysed in the previous graph. This map is set to show the geographical distribution of most active institutions. Following the lines crossing the map, one can find the location of each institution. Looking at the width of each group of lines (green, red, blue and purple) at the most thickest part one can begin to compare the volume of institutions in each particular region.

The first chapter of the project Invisible Matter is publicly presented at the exhibition The Trouble with Value, curated by Kris Dittel and Krzysztof Siatka at Bunkier Sztuki in Krakow, Poland where it is on show from December 15 2017 until March 18 2018. After that the exhibition moves to Onomatopee in Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

Concept, design, graphics and data research by Fokus Grupa. All programming by Husky Bytes.

Invisible Matter is funded by the Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Croatia and Department of Culture of the City of Rijeka.