Location: Skysong Center, Arizona State University, Scottsdale, AZ
Description: Skysong is a nexus where innovators come together to use data and technology to navigate the complexities of global information, commerce, and the public sphere. Taking inspiration from the spherical astrolabe, an astronomical computer used throughout history for navigation and predicting the positions of the sun and stars, Sunburst, reinterprets the rings of an astrolabe as sunburst diagrams, a type of data visualization used in diverse fields to show meaningful relationships in complex data.
The astrolabe is an ancestor of contemporary data visualization: a beautiful form that illuminates hidden patterns, guides the traveler, and predicts future movement. As the rate of data generation exploded in the digital age, data visualization emerged as both an art and a science, a blending of descriptive statistics and grounded theory development.
The title of the artwork, Sunburst, has multiple layers of meaning. The Sun is central to ASU symbolism and the natural environment of Arizona. As the bright Arizona sun travels overhead, the sculpture’s dichroic glass panels change color, transparency, and reflectivity. The artwork changes continually with the movement of the sun and the viewer, poetically evoking that technologically-driven data is continually changing in real-time. Like the sun, data visualization makes the invisible visible. At night, the sculpture is dramatically up lit, providing a very different experience of reflected and transparent color.