University of Nottingham

Data landscapes: Toward an art of environmental change

Project outline

This network brought together leading digital artists, scientists, academics and public and private institutions to explore the creative potential of Climate Models (i.e. digital simulations used by science to picture, analyse and predict environmental change). Addressing the theme of 'Representing Environmental Change', and drawing on a combination of practice-based and theoretical research, the network investigated how multidisciplinary art-science practices could appropriate these models and disseminate them to new audiences.

The Southern Ocean Studies by Tom Corby
The Southern Ocean Studies by Tom Corby


Through a series of four workshops, the network developed active relationships with a number of organisations outside of academia including (amongst others) scientists at the Hadley Centre for Climate Change, The Leonardo Network and the Arts Catalyst alongside our core academic partners and the British Antarctic Survey. 

Workshop 1: 'Data Stories'

Location: Marylebone Campus, University of Westminster
Date: 6th October 2010
This first workshop featured presentations by David Walton, Katrina Dean, Sean Cubitt, Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway

Workshop 2: 'Borderlands'

Location: Marylebone Campus, University of Westminster
Date: 15th December 2010
This workshop included presentations by Tom Corby, Andrew Clarke, Soren Pold, Roger Malina band Gary Hall.

Workshop 3

Location: Marylebone Campus, University of Westminster
Date: 23rd March 2011
The third workshop included presentations by Tom Corby, Mike Hulme, Nicola Triscott, Andrew Watson and Nathan Cunningham, and Martin John Callanan and Richard Hamblyn.

Workshop 4

Location: Arts Catalyst Project Space, Clerkenwell, London
Date: 20th May 2011The fourth workshop incorporated an exhibition with work by Tom Corby, Jonathan Mackenzie and Gavin Baily (The Southern Ocean Studies) and Lise Autogena and Josh Portway (Most Blue Skies).



Running in parallel with the workshops, a series of artworks (and ideas for artworks) have been developed with the Polar Data Centre of the British Antarctic Survey (BAS). A series of watercolours were produced based on an archive of Soviet era climate model outputs of Antarctica found in the library at the British Antarctic Survey. The post-war numerical measurement of climate emerged from joint civilian and military needs connected to ideas around weather control, cold war politics and ironically the search for oil. As such, it seemed fitting to remediate these through an older medium, which has its own rich history of use in scientific voyages of discovery from an earlier era. These images are placeholders of complex and contradictory historical, technological and political relations, which in their own right parallel some of the complex eco-systemic dynamics they attempt to capture.

Artworks produced during the network were exhibited widely at international art festivals in Italy, Brazil, Australia and Istanbul (upcoming), demonstrating an implicit appetite for the research within the wider public.

One of the most important outcomes of the network was in demonstrating the value of creative practice, not necessarily as a conduit to communicating environmental change, but as a form of brokerage or research process toward different understandings of how this might occur. For the scientific membership this enabled them to think differently or experimentally about their practice and the public communication of its knowledge base. One of the key barriers to public appreciation of environmental change involves the invisibility of its processes coupled with the sheer complexity of the science required to describe them. For our external partners such as the Arts Catalyst, the network usefully enabled them to reflect upon their current public programming particularly in relation to how understanding of scientific knowledge production can inform wider cultural debates.

Cold War Watercolours by Tom Corby

Award details

Duration: June 2010 - May 2011 (12 months)

Principal Investigator:
Dr Tom Corby

Nathan Cunningham, Head of the Polar Data Centre, British Antarctic Survey

Higher Education Institution:
School of Media, Arts and Design, University of Westminster



  • Cold War Watercolours
  • The Southern Ocean Studies

Network partner

BAS logo

Related links



Landscape and Environment Programme

School of Geography
University Park
University of Nottingham
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 84 66071