Allusive Protocols (prototypes)

Julie Freeman 2023

Allusive Protocols (prototypes) is a series of three kinetic data-driven artwork prototypes – AP: Space, AP: Land and AP: Sea. It was created as a thought-experiment during a residency at the Open Data Institute investigating power, diplomacy and ecology in the material internet: the vast networks of cables, satellites and data-centres that connect us. These materials create an infrastructure of information that is often (mis)perceived as ephemeral, and therefore not connected to real-world environmental impacts.

The piece speaks of fragility, echoing how this connectivity relies upon billions of tiny off/on switches continually flipping between two states. By subjecting analogue materials to real-world forces the artist asks us to consider the contradictions and imbalances inherent to these systems. The work refers to the implicit, often hidden powers that control them and to the implicit power that nature holds over us.

Within the work, data fluctuations drive an electrical current which alters the state of shape memory wires, held in anticipation by a brass balancing mechanism. The degree and speed of the transition is determined by data. These wires move organically and slowly, almost acting as physical line drawings. The form each small wire adopts refers to the specific data driving it: The zigzag shape of AP: Space is inspired by the signals transmitted to and from the satellites orbiting the Earth and their ground-based receivers. AP: Land’s irregular graph-like shape is inspired by the speed and size of large-scale data transfer. AP: Sea is an undulating shape. Responding to subsea cable data, it is inspired by the speed and distance of data travel.

Commissioned by Data as Culture at the Open Data Institute with support from Invisible Dust

The work was developed as part of the Power and Diplomacy in Critical Data Infrastructures project, click link for full report.


Brass, nitinol wire (shape memory alloy), data relating to satellite communication, data centres, and subsea cabling, arduino, wooden base

Data Types

Commercial, Geospatial, Object, Shared, Temporal

About the Artist

Through her practice Julie Freeman translates complex processes and data from natural sources into kinetic sculptures, physical objects, images, sound compositions, animations, VR & AR,  questioning the use of data and digital technology in how we…
Read more