Review: Digital Arts Masterclass with Nicolas Malevé


On 22 January 2016, Digital Arts Computing recently had the pleasure of meeting Belgian visual artist, self-taught software programmer and data activist Nicolas Malevé. Undergraduate student Isabella Maund reports on what happened.

Based in Barcelona, internationally active Malevé is a core member of Constant for Arts and Media, an artist run non-profit organization that explores an interdisciplinary approach to art, media and technology. Technical curiosity is what led to Malevé’s interest in data and the creative analysis of data.

Active Archives, a research project led by Malevé and Michael Murtaugh, investigates the mutation of an archive in a digital context. With his peers he is redefining our understanding of archives and focusing on original ways to classify, annotate and disseminate archives of images, with a strong focus on photography.

This masterclass was particularly relevant and fascinating, as data has become a large and ever growing part of our everyday lives. We are constantly creating and interacting with data through everyday searches, selfies, public transport, etc. Huge amounts of data are constantly being collected, becoming a resource that is transforming society.

Data collection has become a growing topic of conversation in the art world. Current exhibition Big Bang Data at the Somerset House has brought together artists, journalists and designers to further discuss data and its huge presence in our everyday lives, and what this may mean for our future.

Guttormsgaard: Orderings Random Walk (2) from Michael Murtaugh on Vimeo.

“It was interesting to see how Nicolas’s own passion for archiving lead him to discover new and interesting ways to computationally categorise images. Analysing data in a way that is so notoriously difficult to do. His additional insight – that redacted documents reveal almost a core template – was also inspiring, leading me to think of several ideas for my own upcoming projects.” Joe McAlister, BSc Digital Arts Computing

“I enjoyed hearing Nicolas talk to us about his work, and the way that he approaches the subject matter as a computational artist. Getting feedback from him was really valuable in helping me develop my ideas about the place of computers in my work, and the discussions about our subject area were extremely interesting.” Rebecca Dunn, BSc Digital Arts Computing