Datament, a monumental installation presented at the Polish Pavilion for the 18th International Architecture Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, allow visitors to experience data in its ‘physical’ form. The space of the pavilion will be filled with the wireframes of four life-size houses. These seemingly chaotic and absurd structures faithfully reproduce the source data. The exhibition is intended as a starting point for a discussion about how, while new technologies may not offer us ready-made solutions, they can help us ask better questions.
The sheer amount of data generated every day is staggering. The development of civilisation and technology has made us dependent on the production, collection and processing of information. The conclusions from digitally-processed content are used in architecture, urbanism and spatial planning, among other things. Believing algorithms to be infallible, will allow them to calculate and design our houses and cities.
In architecture, urbanism and spatial planning, statistical data analysis and the use of algorithms in design are placing a significant impact on how we live now and will in the future. However, we are less and less concerned with raw data. Information processed with new technologies creates a distorted picture of reality. Based on this digital illusion, we make decisions with very real consequences.
At the Polish Pavilion, the viewer has the opportunity to experience data in its ‘physical’ form. The installation of impressive dimensions will reproduce the spatial forms of houses from four countries on a 1:1 scale. Made up of almost two thousand metres of coloured steel profiles, the structures are based on averaged, generalised data on the shape, size and functional layout of houses in different geographical zones. Four countries have been selected on the basis of how much statistical data they produce and collect: Hong Kong, Mexico, Malawi and Poland. The installation faithfully reflects this information, but it has no bearing on the actual housing situation in the places from which the information is derived. A tool that was supposed to bring order to reality becomes a source of error.
Datament is the record of a dialogue between an artist and an architect. Anna Barlik works in visual art, local contexts, colour and composition. Marcin Strzała is an architect who explores the relationship between digital data and their physical manifestation in design. Together with curator Jacek Sosnowski, they have developed a structure based on digital data analysis. The title’s neologism, Datament, conveys the idea of the ubiquitous ‘data establishment’ that is constantly shaping the reality in which we live, create and dwell.
The theme of this year’s Biennale Architettura is The Laboratory of the Future. The creators of the Datament project question the infallibility of data as a factor in making development decisions, including the architecture and urban planning of future cities. The exhibition is meant to serve as a starting point for a discussion about the extent to which a view of the world seen solely through data is distorted, and how we might interact with it differently. The presentation of the private spaces in the Polish Pavilion, which have been algorithmically calculated and are detached from reality, is a voice in the ongoing discussion on the state and future of housing, within the context of the Biennale Architettura 2023 and beyond.
Pavilion of Poland
18th International Architecture Exhibition — La Biennale di Venezia
Exhibitors: Anna Barlik (artist) and Marcin Strzała (architect)
Curator: Jacek Sosnowski
Polish Pavilion Commissioner: Janusz S. Janowski, PhD / Zachęta — National Gallery of Art
Polish Pavilion Office: Michał Kubiak, Joanna Waśko