The internet has created a vast rhizome of information, yet with so much rich data at our fingertips, it is difficult to comprehend. It is like you are trying to solve a murder, but by looking at the entire wall of evidence, you don't make any connections. It is not until you begin tostudy the individual pieces of evidence that you begin to make connections. Through parsing up larger chunks of information into manageable pieces, large amounts of information can become easily understandable. Ingrid Burrington follows this mentality, working inside the systems that we take for granted. Her projects are driven by viewing data in different ways. In her project, 1,033 Objects, Ingrid Burrington used information from the Pentagon’s 1033 Program. This program allows excess military equipment to be sold to civilian police departments. Around the time of Ingrid had started her project, the program had already sold over $5.1 billion in equipment to civilian police agencies. Ingrid Burlington wanted to create a journalistic piece similar to “see what your police department got,” but present it in a way that forces the user to see the scale of the entire program.
1,033 Objects simply exists as a web browser that displays to you 1,033 random objects purchased through the program. Through showing completely random objects, the viewer begins to comprehend the scale of the program. While there is the usual military equipment like Automatic .45 Caliber Pistols bought by Berrien Springs, Michigan, there are weirder items like 3 Radar Scattering Camouflage Net Systems at Apache Junction, Arizona or a Mine Resistant Vehicle bought by the Richland County Sheriffs Department, South Carolina. Through presenting so much information in such a simple way, it draws the viewer into the projects as they become interested in the many different objects being purchased. The web page is a simple, clean, black and white browser that simply shows information from the 1033 program. It leaves the viewer to make the discovery about what these police departments are purchasing and whether that is actually necessary. 1,033 Objects is successful in making the viewer question why these police departments need military equipment to protect civilians.
A similar piece of work is Situated Systems. The work explores the impact of military and industrial work in the San Fransisco Bay. This collaborative site-specific project explores how industry has shaped the regions identity. Ingrid Burrington worked with a team at Autodesk’s Experimental Research lab. Through specifically looking into the semiconductor industry in Santa Clara County and “Silicon Valley”, Situated Systems highlighted how emerging technology shaped the growth of the region. Situated Systems and 1,033 Objects both work with incomprehensible amounts of data. Through presenting data in an understandable way, these projects inform people about complex systems. 1,033 Objects presents its data in a much different way. The showing users random objects, they are able to understand the scale of the 1,033 program. Situated Systems is different in that it presented patterns from meticulously organized data. Situated Systems shows the viewers how the past has shaped the future while 1,033 Objects shows how we are currently shaping our future.
In Take A Bullet for The City, R. Luke Dubois visualizes hard data in a much different way. The piece simply has a gun mounted in an acrylic case. The piece was installed in Jonathan Ferrara gallery in New Orleans. Every time there is a shooting reported in New Orleans, a blank is fired. The result is that the case slowly fills with bullets as there are more shootings in the city. It places the viewer in a difficult situation. While you want to see a bullet fired, you know that it means that there has been a shooting in your city. This difficult dilemma causes the viewer to think about data as person rather than just a number. While the other two systems are based off complex systems that are presented simply, Take A Bullet for The City is very clear throughout. Take A Bullet for The City and 1,033 Objects are working in similar realms just from different perspectives. While Take A Bullet for The City quantifies gun violence in a visual system, it could also justify why some of the civilian police departments saw the necessity to buy what they did from the 1,033 program.