Microsoft merges art and big data - see the big picture

Microsoft merges art and big data – see the big picture

Question: What is data? What is big data?

I was at a Microsoft event last week and they asked the crowd those questions before switching on a roaming mic. I did what any self respecting tech “media” person would do and googled… because seriously, how do you define big data?

According to Microsoft the common interpretation or definition of Big Data is:

The challenge of how to find, combine, manage and analyse any type and volume of data in order to quickly gain insights and solve problems.

Kelly Husband, the Data Platform Product Marketing Manager at Microsoft SA says Big Data isn’t just a buzzword. It has the capability to assist business and empower consumers. By using technology people can see the “big picture” from the masses of the data that is out there.

Microsoft merges art and big data - see the big picture

That’s where “see the big picture” comes in, a new Big Data campaign from Microsoft to try educate you and I on the technological tools available to us and how we can use Big Data to grow our businesses or just see the big picture. As part of this campaign Microsoft merged art with big data, commissioning six young artists to produce work that interprets their definition of big data.

A clever little twist was that the pieces only come into focus when technology is used to interpret the work. I had a chance to see the various artworks at opening night. They’re currently on display at Sandton City in the Mr Price Court. They’re on display until the 3rd of July so you can take a peak too (entrance is free).

There are six works on display but I have 2 favourites I want to share with you.

Microsoft merges art and big data - see the big picture

The first is from 22 year old Izel van der Merwe and it is entitled “Puzzle”. I love how she describes her piece, insisting that it is about knowing that sometimes when things fall apart or feel disjointed it is the moment they may be falling into place (this is as much a life lesson as an interpretation of Big Data). According to Izel, small pieces make the big picture and the secret to Big Data is knowing which pieces fit where and when. When you take a look at the work with the naked eye all you see is scrambled puzzle pieces. However, if you stand in a specific spot and adjust your body the bigger picture forms.

Microsoft merges art and big data - see the big picture

My other favourite was entitled “Fly on the Wall” and was created by 21 year old Njabulo Moyane. Njabulo’s interpretation of big data is that one size does not fit all. Her idea works by using a magnifying device to highlight that size is not actually important if something is used correctly (some women might disagree though).  The piece demonstrates how a small amount of data can make a big difference.

Have you had a chance to check out the exhibit yet? Which was your favourite piece? 

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