The Musketeers Foundation Institute of Data Science at The University of Hong Kong (“the Institute”) organized the “Data is the New Art Form” Art Competition 2022. It aims to break the stereotypes about data science and let the community understand better about this novel research domain of data science. The scientific research outcomes of data science, being closely related to daily applications, actually bring about betterment to both the local and the international communities. It is the first time for a large scale art competition to be launched by a research institute to draw on both the aesthetics of art and science, two seemingly irrelevant topics. On the afternoon of June 16, 2022, the Institute invited all shortlisted participants of the Competition to attend a grand prize presentation ceremony, which was held in Chi Wah Learning Commons, the University’s Centennial Campus. Not only did the invitees and their friends and family assemble at the venue to enjoy the artwork exhibition of award-winning pieces, as exciting as it is, the results of the Competition were announced on the spot as well.
Participants of the Art Competition were categorised into two groups, the HKU Group and the Secondary School Group – both paintings and digital graphics were accepted. Comprised of professional judges who are leading figures in various fields of academic research at HKU, the five members of the judging panel, including Professor Max Shen, Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) and the Director of the Institute, Professor Ian Holliday, Vice-President and Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Teaching & Learning), Professor William Hayward, Dean of Faculty of Social Sciences, Professor Herman Cappelen, Chair Professor of Philosophy, and Dr Roslyn Lee Hammers, Associate Professor of the Department of Art History. As the judges have expressed, it was brain-racking to decide on the top prize winners and the merit awardees, let alone to pick two out of all as the grand prize winners of the “Data is the New Art Form” Special Award, judging on their adherence and imagination on the theme “Data <-> Future”. The Special Award winners, both rendering digital graphic submissions, eventually went to Wu Ping from the HKU Group, and Hui Yi Lan from the Secondary School Group. Their respective artwork was titled “Whales of Neural Networks” and “Data · Us (數據 · 我們)”. Ms Wu Ping, awarded the Special Award, is currently a post-graduate student at the LKS Faculty of Medicine – her work on “Whales of Neural Networks” received unanimous votes from all judges. The light-hearted and lively ceremony was bustling with joy and excitement from over 100 guests and participants on site.
Professor Max Shen, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research) as well as the Institute’s Director, exclaimed, “I am actually beyond cheerful to see how the participants illustrate their own perceptions towards data science and its diverse applications in ways other than scientific investigation or analysis. This goes along well with the Institute’s commitment to nurturing young talents, promoting innovations, and ultimately casting a positive impact in society. I hold strong to my belief that artistic creations will be something that can bring people closer to data science and scientific research, for they are always so colourful and heart-warming.” Another member of the judging panel, Dr Roslyn Lee Hammers, Associate Professor of the Department of Art History at HKU, agreed and added, “I greatly enjoyed the opportunity to see artworks that students created on the theme “Data is the New Art Form”. As an art historian who is interested in creative responses to our shared human experience, the artworks submitted for the competition showed a great range of creativity and compelling enthusiasm. The submissions overall display innovative and engaging interpretations of data science, AI, and ideas about smart society. I had so much pleasure being a part of the judging panel.”
Representatives from Wah Yan College, Kowloon, awarded secondary school with the most active participation in this Competition, including Principal Mr Warren Chung and several students who joined the Competition, were also attendees to the prize presentation ceremony.
Many winners from the junior forms were seen at the prize presentation ceremony as well. Lui Sze Ting, a Secondary 2 student coming from Carmel Pak U Secondary School, was the youngest winner of all – she was proudly awarded Gold Prize of the Painting genre under the Secondary School Group with her winning piece titled “Data + Science = Life (數據+科學=生活)”. Lui stated, “I thank very much the Institute for giving me an opportunity to construct a future society in my mind using colourful paintings, and even be able to have my artistic creation displayed in the HKU office! Another winner, Dr Frank Xue, Assistant Professor at the Department of Real Estate and Construction, Faculty of Architecture, who was also a member of the Institute, commented that it came as a pleasant surprise to him that his digital creation could catch the judges’ attention out of the many excellent entries submitted by his HKU fellows. His work named “Science and Light” employed artificial intelligence as his graphical tools in creation, and at the same time shed light on the virtue of “Sapientia Et Virtus” exemplified in the HKU anthem, giving a great representation of the combination of colours and technology.
One unique feature of this event is that winning artworks would earn a chance to be displayed in prominent areas of the Institute’s new office premises and integrated as parts of the interior designs. As the Competition title suggests, the Institute, being the first of the ten research institutes in the University’s technological development blueprint for the next decade, aspires to establish a novel, interactive “art gallery for data science” where the youth could unearth their very potentials and creativity. It is upon our vision that the seemingly impossible, wild fantasies presented in the award-winning artworks will be turned into reality with our research excellence and first-class infrastructure for data science research.