Mimi Ọnụọha: What is data?


ACCA (Australian Centre for Contemporary Art) · Mimi Ọnụọha – What is data?


I define data as the things that a group cares about and can measure. I like this definition, because it’s a reminder of the fact that data doesn’t just exist out in the world as some kind of unlimited resource it has to be constructed, it has to be collected.

It’s also a reminder of how data is relational. Often you’ll have a group who creates and collects data, then you’ll have a group whose information makes up what has been collected. That is the relationship data emerges out of, and it’s one that is marked by shifting power dynamics.

In These Networks In Our Skin, a group of four women are reinserting themselves into the infrastructure of technology and the internet. They’re insisting that the cables that data travels through should be laced with their own values and presences. In doing so, they highlight the fact that the data that we collect, and the technology we create is already laced with cultural values. The question is just, which ones?