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The Ethics of Interruption, by Katherine Mitchell

A series of data visualizations that consider the instinctual gestures of mothering in an age of big data

February 16, 2016

[This is a guest post by Katherine Mitchell*, about her project “The Ethics of Interruption”]

 

 

The Ethics of Interruption is a series of large-scale drawings, or data visualizations, that consider the instinctual gestures of mothering in an age of big data. Referencing Lisa’s Baraitser’s ideas about interruption as a strategy of communication, the works were created between feedings, naps, and attempts at finding a system during the beginning months of my daughter’s life. Tracking these seemingly banal minutae in my phone, or breastfeeding while texting with a friend, I sometimes questioned whether technology was interrupting my mothering, or mothering was interrupting my life.

Challenging the notion of the “break, or interruption” and repositioning it as normalized displacement, the works use diagrammatic form to highlight beginning and paused processes and complex interdependent parts. Operating as markers of failed strategies, or data sets gone awry, they allude to mothering as an inner logic that is at once interdependent, sublime, and withheld from view; much like the digital systems that we create and live within today.

(image: The Ethics of Interruption | graphite and adhesive on plastic 25“ x 40” | Katherine Louise Mitchell, 2015)
(image: The Ethics of Interruption | graphite and adhesive on plastic 25“ x 40” | Katherine Louise Mitchell, 2015)
(image: The Ethics of Interruption | graphite and adhesive on plastic 25“ x 40” | Katherine Louise Mitchell, 2015; photo credit: Laura Beth Reese)
(image: The Ethics of Interruption | graphite and adhesive on plastic 40“ x 50” | Katherine Louise Mitchell, 2015; photo credit: Laura Beth Reese)
(image: The Ethics of Interruption | graphite, monofilament, and adhesive on plastic 40“ x 70” | Katherine Louise Mitchell, 2015; photo credit: Laura Beth Reese)
(image: The Ethics of Interruption | graphite, monofilament, and adhesive on plastic 40“ x 80” | Katherine Louise Mitchell, 2015; photo credit: Laura Beth Reese)

My recent work has focused on the rising role of diagrams in contemporary art and data visualization. Research as artistic practice plays a large part in my current work, where I explore data, neuroses, organization, and chaos theory in my meanderings through instagram and art theory. The following is an excerpt from my recent writing “Diagrams: The Promise of Containment”.

On the Logic of Diagrams

We find order, beauty, balance, and linearity in diagrams yet few things that they describe manifest as neatly in actuality. They are neither text nor image. Presenting as a third logic, we absorb the presented information through the interconnectivity of parts. They exhibit the modernist ethic while simultaneously depicting the complexity of relations. In many ways, the promise of containment that is inherent to the modernist and minimalist underpinnings of diagrams is obvious. Yet increasingly, diagrams are used to elaborate on very complex relationships. What is this impulse to visualize the invisible? Why must we make sense of our surroundings through schematics- representing highly complex relationships with simplified lines and forms? How does this form allow us to access more emotionally significant content?

 

*Katherine Louise Mitchell is a Boston based artist whose practice investigates relationships between video installation, sculpture, photography, text, and drawing. Her work is practiced internationally in venues including SomArts Cultural Center, 66balmy Gallery, Crucible Steel Gallery, Grossman Gallery, the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston (SMFA), 57Delle Project Space, the Massachusetts Campus Compact Conference on Civic Engagement, the Edinburgh College of Art, and Stockwell Studios, London, England. Publications include the Vincent Curtis Educational Register: Interdisciplinary Art Education: Creativity in a Culture of Choice and HESA inprint, Helsinki, Finland. In 2011, she received a Montague Travel Grant and the President’s Research Grant from SMFA. She holds a BA in Cultural Anthropology and Performance from Smith College and the University of Dakar, Senegal. She is a 2013 MFA graduate from SMFA in installation, photography, and drawing and currently serves as the Director of Career Services at Montserrat College of Art. You can find more of her work at her website, and follow her updates on Instagram.

Written by Tiago Veloso

Tiago Veloso is the founder and editor of Visualoop and Visualoop Brasil . He is Portuguese, currently based in Bonito, Brazil.

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