Artist-in-Residence: Anna Ridler

Fall 2022 Purdue visit

Anna Ridler's Circadian Bloom is on display in Rueff Gallery West.
Rueff Galleries are open Monday - Friday, 10 AM-7 PM.

Inaugural artist-in-residence enriches Data Mine experience

Award-winning artist and researcher Anna Ridler is widely known for artwork that blends data, art and ethics, and she brings this unique skill set to The Data Mine as its inaugural artist-in-residence. Ridler started her residency in fall 2020 and will remain in the role until 2022.

Ridler, who is based in London, works with collections of data to create new and unusual narratives in a variety of mediums. A core element of her work lies in the creation of self-generated data sets through a laborious process of selecting and classifying images and text. By creating her own data sets, Ridler is able to uncover and expose underlying themes and concepts while also inverting the usual process of scraping pre-classified images found in large databases on the internet.

"Our students are smart and innovative, and the way Anna combines artistic expression, machine learning and deep thinking about ethics resonates with them and sparks their imagination," says Ellen Gundlach, managing director of The Data Mine. "We hope that by working with an artist, they will be able to see the field of data science from a new perspective. We want them to ask new questions and explore new ideas."

Some of Ridler's most notable works to date fall within her "tulip series," which explores the hysteria around tulip mania during the Dutch Golden Age and compares it to the speculation and bubbles surrounding cryptocurrencies today. The series is expressed in three forms: a photographic dataset in "Myriad (Tulips)"; two iterations of machine-generated videos, both called "Mosaic Virus"; and a website with an accompanied, functioning decentralized application in "Bloemenveiling."

Decentralized applications are a novel breed of applications that are not controlled or owned by a single authority, cannot be shut off or cannot have a downtime. Among other uses, these applications support decentralized financial systems, including Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies.

In fall 2019, before she became artist-in-residence, Purdue University Galleries exhibited work by Ridler, a piece titled "Dreaming, Automated: Deep Learning, Data Sets, and Decay," in Stewart Center's Robert L. Ringel Gallery. She has already given two talks to The Data Mine, with more talks, additional projects and in-person visits among the possible future events. Ridler will also work on a long-term student project involving the finding of data on the last editions of local newspapers.

"I found Anna Ridler's work to be refreshingly different in how it utilizes the more modern art of data science," says Rachael Herring, a Data Mine student in the College of Agriculture. "In fact, I had never even considered that data could be used for art such as hers. Through her art, Ridler wanted to make it clear to us that information is physical, and it is real."

Ridler has degrees from the Royal College of Art and Oxford University. Ridler's work can be viewed on her website. Please also see a THiNK Magazine article about Ridler's work.