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UB Reporter

Science & Art Cabaret to tackle big data

Published April 17, 2014

“Data Mine, Data Yours” is the theme of the next Buffalo Science & Art Cabaret, during which artists, performers and a mathematician will discuss the influence of big data on society.

The event will take place at 7 p.m. April 23 at the Ninth Ward at Babeville, 341 Delaware Ave., Buffalo. It is free and open to the public.

The venue is a basement club with a cash bar, and guests can expect to see and hear entertaining presentations on the topic of the day.

“Government, scientists and marketers, among many other actors, are collecting, storing and analyzing increasingly large and complex databases of information,” says UB physics professor Will Kinney, one of the cabaret’s organizers.

“How do we cope with big data? How do we play with it? How do we make it beautiful?” he asks. “Come on April 23 and hear leading local thinkers grapple with the issues, and have fun along the way.”

The lineup:

  • Alex Derwick and Byron Rich, UB visual studies instructors and techno-potentiality producers. Their presentation is titled “Autonomous Player Simulation: Electronic Gaming With Physical Results.”
  • E. Bruce Pitman, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences and a mathematics professor. His presentation is titled “Data Is Not Knowledge — But It Is Trouble.”
  • Sarah Bay-Cheng, director of the Technē Institute for Arts and Emerging Technologies at UB, and a professor of theatre and dance. Her presentation is titled “If Surveillance, Then Performance, or, All the World’s a Screen.”
  • John Massier, visual arts curator for Hallwalls. His presentation is titled “Casual Data Mining in the Artwork of Jennifer Dalton.”

The medley of speakers provides a window into how big data is altering society, “creating new art and performance, new science, new forms of political protest and new problems,” Kinney says.

“Data Mine, Data Yours” is the third event in the Science & Art Cabaret’s 2013-14 season. The series, organized by the UB College of Arts and Sciences, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center and the Buffalo Museum of Science, brings artists and researchers together several times a year to discuss how a common theme relates to their work. Meant for a general audience, the talks are enlightening, exciting and fun.