The Israeli Government ICT Authority, Prime Minister's Office recently initiated a first of its kind Data-Art Hakathon competition, inviting artists, entrepreneurs and technologists to work with the data accumulated by the government and create interesting and inspiring art pieces, raising awareness for the Open Government Data initiative and to put emphasis on the important information available to the general public.
The Open Government Data (OGD) initiative, are a set of policies - that promote transparency, accountability and value creation by making government data available to all.
Studio Youtovia passed the first stage of submissions which granted us the opportunity to participate in this 24 hour hectic makers event in Beit Eliance, Art Hub, Jerusalem. With the help of a very good talented friend, Sharon, we analyzed the raw data accumulated by the Ministry of Education, and found some surprising results! It was important for us to understand the data and find correlations between characteristics usually untouched or unheard of. Only after seeing the data visualized on a "Scatter" graph, presenting four different characteristics in one graph, could I actually envision an art piece to express it.
The data depicts how children in low socio-economic Municipalities have closer relations/ connections between teachers and students which correlated with that fact that they also showed higher interest and feeling of capability in their studies than children living in high socio-economic areas! Wow what an amazing insight! Meaning, although their challenging surroundings and living situations, or maybe despite of it, they rise up and are interested, capable and willing to study to move up the ladder to change their reality for the better! The fact that this correlates with their teachers more connected and caring towards them, clearly proves that these teachers are doing something right! Supporting them, motivating them, believing in them, does make all the difference! You can see this in once glance from the data visualized.
I played with many ideas and materials prior to reaching the "Treasure Chest of Information" concept. I knew I wanted several 'must' criteria for the piece. 1- it must be interactive, allowing people to not only see the data, but also play with it, touch it, move it, aspire with it. 2- it needed to be adjustable, meaning because data it ever changing, the art needed to be also changeable, not a static monument only to be looked at, but adaptable to present several graphs of data. 3- it had to present the revelation made in a respectful manner, 'shining the light on' and highlighting the 'treasure' the data revealed. I came with all the materials to the 24 hour marathon event, but really did not know how it would actually play out until the morning after when it was all completed.
I worked physically hard that day-night, cutting stencils, painted, pasted, connected, handmade all the little one-of-a-kind pieces, up the stairs... down the stairs... until morning when the judges arrived to see the artistic products created from all 16 remaining participating groups. The judges vote comprised of 80% of the count, while the remaining 20% were voted by the audience invited to the exhibition event held two weeks later.
Youtovia won third prize! Receiving praise from the Director and Deputy President of Bezalel Art Academy, Dr. Yuval Carniel for a
"Fascinating demonstration of the important data accumulated by the Ministry of Education"
It was a challenging competition, with many talented and professional designers, coders and artists involved, I am very proud of this accomplishment, even more so by the optimistic message we came across and were able to surface to a visual tangible awareness: 1- Yes, everything is possible! yes, you can do it! 2- Belief in yourself, knowledge and action are keys to moving upward, 3- our internal drive, passion and fire to change/ to progress, stems out from our discomfort of the situation, pain or difficulty we experience. So keep on!
Special thanks to the many people who helped us in the process of ideation and creation, we are blessed and want to bless you in return.