Architecture – At the Venice Architecture Biennale 2023, the Polish Pavilion presents Datament, a monumental installation filling the pavilion’s space with a colourful wireframe grid reproducing the spatial forms of houses from four countries on a 1:1 scale.
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The seemingly chaotic and absurd structure faithfully reproduces the source data. The exhibition is intended as a starting point for discussing how new technologies may not offer us ready-made solutions but can help us ask better questions.
Made up of almost two thousand metres of coloured steel profiles, the structures are based on average, generalised data on the shape, size, and functional layout of houses in different geographical zones. Four countries have been selected based on how much statistical data they produce and collect: Hong Kong, Mexico, Malawi, and Poland.
The installation faithfully reflects this information but does not affect the actual housing situation in the places from which the information is derived. “A tool that was supposed to bring order to reality becomes a source of error.”
“We share a world with data. Believing in its infallibility, we allow algorythms to calculate and design our houses and cities.” Say artist Anna Barlik, curator Jacek Sosnowski, and architect Marcin Strzala.
“However, without a sensitive and conscious designer, digitally processed data can create distorted solutions, such as those presented in the Polish Pavilion. Data must be treated not as a source of definitive answers but rather as a tool for asking better questions. This is precisely the re-evaluation that Datament advocates.”
The sheer amount of data generated every day is staggering. The development of civilisation and technology has made us dependent on the production, collection, and processing of information. The conclusions from digitally-processed content are used in architecture, urbanism, and spatial planning, among other things.
“Believing algorythms to be infallible will allow them to calculate and design our houses and cities.” The curators told Archipanic. “Based on this digital illusion, we make decisions with very real consequences.”
All photos by Jacopo Salvi, courtesy of the Polish Pavilion.