Exhibition concentrating on data is rare, even internationally

The exhibition is open Mon-Sat including holiday season, and can be visited also online via Aalto’s new virtual exhibition platform.
Detail from 3D printed object from Data Vitality exhibition, photo by Mikko Raskinen
Detail from the exhibition: Resized 3D printed version of the original ceramic sculpture by Paula Blåfield (late 90’s). Photo by Mikko Raskinen

The Data Vitality exhibition, which just opened in Dipoli Gallery, has quite a unique topic: The exhibition explores the changing role of data in society and combines perspectives on how data is shaping education and research across art, science, business and technology. The exhibition is also the pilot site of the new Aalto virtual exhibition platform; thus, you are able to dive into the ocean of data from your own sofa.

Several Aalto schools are part of this cross-disciplinary exhibition, and the basis of the whole project is to get people to think what it means to be a data-driven university – a goal that is stated in the university’s strategy. The exhibition offers various points of entry to data for Aalto community members, partners and the broader public. Understanding the changes in how data is driving decision making institutionally and at a policy level provides a greater ability to control and manage your data rights, data literacy and intellectual property.

‘Exhibitions can act as an interface to research, thinking and practices in society. In a university context, they offer a material way to engage with how data affects our lives in research and society. Data is driving decision making and policy changes at a local and global level, and that influence is seen in Aalto’s strategic goals, one of which is to develop an understanding of what it means to be a data-driven university. There isn’t just one answer to that question but rather a variety of different contexts, impacts and experiences that the exhibition presents. Our current choices inform future practices, so it’s important to stimulate more discussion of how we use data and how data is used as a resource,’ describes the exhibition’s curator, Edel O’Reilly, articulating the significance of the exhibition.

Kati Hagros (left) and Edel O'Reilly at the opening of the exhibition, photo by Outi Turpeinen

Data is driving decision making and policy changes at a local and global level, and that influence is seen in Aalto’s strategic goals.

Exhibition’s Curator, Edel O’Reilly,

The exhibition includes interviews with a selection of professors and other professionals from different schools on the topic of how data-driven and open data practices impact their disciplines, ranging from economics to quantum technology. Aalto University’s own operations are also discussed, showing how data have become the new water we need for university operation and decision making and how Aalto people in various work roles have gradually started to see, understand, value and share data in their daily work.

Browse exhibition content

Visitors to the exhibition can engage with interactive and participatory projects, immersive installations, archival objects and 3D printed collections as well as video works and publications. All the designers who worked on the exhibition concept and visual identity, displays and sound are also Aalto students and graduates contributing in many ways to the visual interpretation of the exhibition and media materials such as the interview series.

Overview of Ali Akbar Mehta's art piece in Data Vitality exhibition, photo by Outi Turpeinen

Doctoral researcher Ali Akbar Mehta’s ‘256 Million Colours of Violence’ is both an immersive installation and accompanying participatory online archival research project. It challenges us to consider the form and function of bureaucracy in reinforcing categorisations of identity and being. Using colour as responsive material for individual and collective histories and experiences of violence, the project aims to co-create politically conscious archives. Photo: Outi Turpeinen

Objects from Data Vitality exhibition, photo by Outi Turpeinen

The Aalto Archives & PhotoRobot showcase the data life cycle of an archive object as well as new photogrammetry and digitization tools to assist and expand teaching collections. There are also incredible projects which approach the creation of qualitative data and the infrastructures of data capture to from an empathetic, human and non-human perspective. Photo: Outi Turpeinen

Detail from Open Forest installation in Data Vitality exhibition, photo by Mikko Raskinen

Open Forest’ led by Andrea Botero & Markéta Dolejšová, is another uniquely experimental and performative project which reimagines how we build and co-create data as a medium for storytelling and world building, using the landscape of the forest and it’s data to tell stories about our environments and the climate crisis. Through their interactive installation and forest walks, they unfold relationships between human and non-human ecology of the forest between creatures, scientists, citizens, plants and data stations. Photo: Mikko Raskinen

General image from Data Vitality exhibition, photo by Outi Turpeinen

In addition to the focus of the exhibition is on Aalto University, we also have international perspectives including newly commissioned artwork by Bethany Crawford and an invited project by Aesthetic Programming. Photo by Outi Turpeinen.

Chief Digital Officer Kati Hagros inher opening speech of the Data Vitality exhibition:

'My favourite thing in the world is to lie on the rock in the night on our summer cottage and think about big questions like how the universe began and why space is so big and beautiful. However, in this modern world, it’s not only space that’s interesting. We humans have created a totally new universe, a digital universe which is full of big new questions. So let’s start asking ourselves these questions about data: Can we live without data anymore? How much data does humankind need? Can data save the planet? Can data last forever? Can data be beautiful?’

You can visit the exhibition at Dipoli Gallery or virtually until 14 February 2022

  • Dipoli Gallery: Otakaari 24, 1st floor, the space is a public space open to everybody.
  • You can check Dipoli opening hours here.
  • Dipoli is also open during the holiday season (20.12.2021 – 7.1.2022 opening hours are 08:00 – 15:30), if you wish visit during a time period when the university is otherwise almost sleeping.
  • We strongly recommend the use of face masks in all our spaces.
  • The exhibition can be visited virtually here:

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