Just Add Time

Data plus time equals insights and stories. But what does data look like?


Think of data collection and you might think of a spreadsheet. Rows and rows of numbers and information. Spreadsheets like this are full of stories – think of information that captures something changing over time - but the spreadsheet in its raw form is not very digestible to most humans! (When you translate the data into visualisations and images it gets much more human-friendly and fun - more about this in a future post.)

Data comes in many different forms. Some are digital and many are analogue. Often data is captured for a specific purpose, to find out something about the world around us, but also data can be read from existing objects and records. 

A cross section of a tree trunk captures its whole lifespan and the events of that life. This woodcut print of a tree trunk by Bryan Nash Gill captures data in visual form. We can read the spacing of the growth rings, telling how fast the tree grew. The cracks and the bark tell more, and the patterns showing the emergence of new branches. Every tree has a different ‘data print’. Bryan Nash Gill "I found that things were as or more beautiful and complex inside than what was visible from the outside...You’ll never know what you’re missing if you don’t find some way to get inside and look."

Credit: Xavi Bou

Xavi Bou’s ‘Ornithologies’ series of images capture the flight paths of birds using long exposure photographs. A lot of dynamic information is contained in one still image. This one taken at the seastacks of Vik in Iceland shows Northern Fulmars and Puffins circling. 

Extend the timeline even more and you can look at the limestone quarry of Berry Head as a slow data archive. Thin layers of calcium carbonate have been laid down over millennia. Data fragments in the form of fossilised creatures are held inside and sometimes tumble out so we can see them. 

Prospect Brixham opens the doors to using data to learn and reveal things about the place and the community of Brixham, and to inform its future.


Hero Image Credit: Bryan Nash Gill
Author: Prospect Brixham

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