Data-X is a University of Edinburgh initiative which aims to demystify the world of research data through diverse, dynamic and data-driven ‘installations’. In this short article, we talk to Matt Giannotti, a PhD student at Edinburgh College of Art (ECA) whose work is currently on show in our historic Sculpture Court as part of the first Data-X exhibition, Pioneering Research Data.

Data-X brings together researchers from the arts and sciences, of whom 12 are involved in the project’s first exhibition and symposium. As well as contributors from the Reid School of Music and the School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture (ESALA) at ECA, participants come from the School of Engineering, School of Geosciences and the College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine.

Matt Giannotti, who is currently undertaking a PhD in Music at ECA, got involved in Data-X by attending one of the project’s three introductory workshops, which provided an opportunity to network with peer researchers from across the University, explore synergies, and find new ways to visualise, materialise and communicate research data.

As Matt describes it, "we discussed various project ideas, as well as what each of us could bring to the table, and we started drafting plans”.

Our ideas had a path to becoming real

Matt is involved in three pieces in Pioneering Research Data: two physical installations (PUROS Sound Box and Surface of Significance); and one performance (Wind Gust 42048).

For PUROS Sound Box, his collaborators have been Dr Sophia Banou and Dr Christos Kakalis (both recent ESALA PhD graduates), and for Surface of Significance he has worked with Lucas Godfrey, a PhD student in the School of Geosciences.

He says “It is interesting collaborating with people from other disciplines because they often have very different ideas and approaches to how things can get accomplished.

For the Sound Box project, we knew what could be possible, but often didn't know exactly how - so we started speaking with an electrical engineer who helped us draft plans. All of a sudden our ideas had a path to becoming real - I think that was the coolest part of the project for me.

For the Surface of Significance, I thought Lucas brought a whole realm of philosophy and meta-physics crashing together - it was really fun to witness his thoughts unfolding in real time. He was truly the project's backbone, and it was a wild ride”.

Asked what he’d learned through his participation in Data-X, Matt said:

“One thing I learned is to make sure you leave enough time for your projects; otherwise you won't have sufficient time to test! Also, a lot about wiring circuitry and how to properly ground circuits.

I had a lot of people ask me "Are you an engineer?" and my response was always "No, I'm a musician". I don't know how I got roped into doing the circuitry, but it was fun”.

Data-X is supported by The Data Lab, ASCUS | Art & Science, and University of Edinburgh Information Services (IS) through the IS Innovation Fund.

The Pioneering Research Data exhibition runs in the Sculpture Court at ECA until 6th December 2016.

FREE tickets are still available for the Data-X symposium at ECA which takes place on Thursday 1st December. Book here.

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