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The ‘Living Data’ project and exhibition pushes pattern cutting outside the contexts of fashion or costume, resituating it within the domain of data art.

Documenting COVID-19, this work offers an alternative perspective from traditional numerical data such as spreadsheets, charts and graphs, frequently seen during the pandemic.

Inspired by the creative pattern cutting of Tomoko Nakamichi, the concertinaed fabric forms known as ‘Jabaras’, have all been created through collaboration with individuals and families.  Participants undertook a survey providing numerical information about themselves such as age, height, shoe size etc.

The data captured was used to dictate the proportions of each segment of the Jabara, resulting in a physicalization of their data unique to the individual, serving as an unconventional form of portraiture.  Contributors decorated the fabric for their sculptures, with drawings or marks representing memories and feelings about COVID-19, these could be literal or abstract; also acting as a form of data.

Unscripted audio accounts from each family or individual were also created, with orators speaking freely about their reflections on the pandemic.

The strings the Jabaras are suspended from are a gesture to traditional graphs, forming a linear fan that is evocative of a virus being transmitted.

Every patterned Jabara has a twin, made from plain fabric, gathered together to form a huge data cluster, representational of the virus. 

There are multiple layers of data within this work, such as: 

  • Decorated Jabaras clustered together represent families, lone Jabaras represent individuals 

  • The collaborative Jabaras run in chronological order, oldest to newest 

  • Red strings indicate those that have had COVID-19, black strings mark those that have not (at the time of taking the survey)

  • The body of work as a whole forms an archive, offering a human centric approach to data.  The intention is to capture experienced nuances of COVID-19 in order to promote reflection and empathy for our shared trauma.  



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