Aalto University: Exhibition concentrating on data is rare, even internationally

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.