Broken Nature portrait #3: Accurat—The Room of Change

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EDITOR’S NOTE: In our increasingly fast and hyper-connected world, appreciating the notion of “change” can be hard. Even more arduous, is to make sense of the entanglements between global and local phenomena, collective and individual perspectives – while everything remains in flux. In The Room of Change, the high-end data science, design and development studio Accurat (Giorgia Lupi, Gabriele Rossi, Nicola Guidoboni, Giovanni Magni, Lorenzo Marchionni, Andrea Titton and Alessandro Zotta) comes to grips with such complexity, and visualises it in the form of a handcrafted data tapestry. As one of the four directly commissioned works featured in the XXII Triennale di Milano, Broken Nature, The Room of Change welcomes the visitors into the galleries, thus setting the tone for the entire exhibition.

Broken Nature portrait #3: Accurat—The Room of Change. Directed by Jacopo Farina, 2019.

The Room of Change installation is a handcrafted data tapestry illustrating how multiple aspects of our environment have changed in the past centuries, how they are still changing, and how they will likely continue changing. Combining several different data sources depicting the world from both global and local-individual perspectives, the installation tells stories of people and their relationship with what has been around them over time, layering dense and granular information within the narration to highlight how change is pervasive at all scales. The research and design have been conducted with a deliberately humanistic approach: data represents real life, it is a snapshot of the world just as a picture captures a small moment in time. Numbers are always placeholders for something else, a way to capture a point of view—but sometimes this can get lost. This is why the piece revolves around eight macro topics that organize information and which, although they are all related to humans, nonetheless reveal consequences that oftentimes affect us and other species simultaneously.

They are illustrated through a number of global data sets (world population, average temperatures, disease rates, energy consumption, etc.) to frame large-scale phenomena with broad strokes as well as single and specific stories that will directly or indirectly represent the micro consequences of the large-scale phenomena (such as the disappearing Aral Sea, the dip in life expectancy in Cambodia during its civil war, the quick shift in South Korean exports from agricultural products and commodities to high tech, and more). Most of the change we experience is only shown to us from far away and high above. At first glance, a visitor might not even realize that data is the organizing principle of the motif. However, The Room of Change has been envisioned as a data-driven wallpaper creating a morphing visual pattern that unveils the importance of a perpetual interplay of scales and dimensions when assessing change, and illustrates the evolution of many recurring themes of the show: a subtle and poetic tapestry depicting change, from our past to our present to our future. Each of the visual components defining the pattern is a theme, and each vertical section of the wall becomes a snapshot of a precise moment frozen in time.

We would like to thank Repower for generously backing The Room of Change.

Accurat is a data-driven research, design, and innovation firm, with offices in Milan and New York. With team of 35 data scientists and analysts, designers and developers, couples high-end design with all kinds of data, crafting intelligent, user-centric solutions. The studio works collaboratively with clients to uncover key organizational challenges, develop new processes and workflows, design and deploy data visualizations, interfaces, and tools that drive insight and engagement.

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