Data natures: the politics and aesthetics of prediction
The 1755 Lisbon earthquake was a cultural revolution that established an intimate relationship between data and nature. This panel examines how data has been increasingly perceived as an analogue of nature, capable of figuring its shape. The panel converges on this conflation by examining the politics and aesthetics of prediction, arguing that both data and nature are variable. Although, data cannot be used to make precise predictions—such is the nature of nature, which precludes such figuring—data is one currency through which we might predict environments. Yet, if data is not nature expressed systematically, then what is data? Data both makes sense and generates sense by conjuring patterns in amassed signals; prediction then is a way of guessing where the next point will fall in an identified pattern.