A Project Liberty Experience @ Unfinished Live
If you can’t touch or feel something, how do you know it’s yours?
Today, every action we take leaves a trail of data that’s owned, controlled, and monetized by large corporations. Unfinished, an organization dedicated to strengthening civic life in the digital age, imagines a more equitable, decentralized digital world and believes data ownership is the defining public policy issue of the future.
For its first public event – Unfinished Live – Unfinished convened influential tech, impact, and cultural leaders to discuss the future over two days at NYC’s The Shed. Tasked with creating an interactive exhibit for the centerpiece of the conference, our team conceived, designed, and built A Project Liberty Experience to tell the compelling story behind the data we create, its value, who owns it, and who benefits from its value.
If you can’t touch or feel something, how do you know it’s yours? This question sparked our idea to bring the two data futures to life in a single experience that people could see and touch, and in a way that was as big as the issue itself.
We built a soaring 60-foot-tall cylinder in The Shed’s McCourt Atrium and partnered with world renowned multimedia artist Refik Anadol to create a dramatic data visualization composed of more than 100 million publicly available images of New York City’s architecture, cityscapes and landscapes. This was projected onto the cylinder along with responses to a crowdsourced survey asking the question, “If you had the power to control your data, what would you do?”
Inside the cylinder, attendees engaged with two interactive 40-by-80-foot data screens. One demonstrated how users’ data is taken from them and stored in “walled gardens” owned by large corporations; the other used gestural technology that allowed users to play freely with their data, helping them imagine a more equitable world where everyone owns and controls their own data.