The “Dear data” Project: More than Just Data-Art


  • Patrick Wells Memorial University of Newfoundland


 “Dear Data” is a graduate research project that involved collecting ethnographic and ethological data that produced some unexpected tensions. Initially, I was uncertain how I could represent the data using art. However, through trial and error, along with collaborations with my project partner, I achieved my goal of representing the data using artistic realism. An unforeseen aspect of the collaboration was the social facilitation of the writing and artistic representations of the results. Our collaboration also clarified how I was projecting my data story to her and other readers, enriching my appreciation of the importance of data representation. I noted that my interpretation of project data sets, such as my Twitter usage or observed dog behaviour, demonstrated my tendency towards reductionism. Metacognitive analyses led to the resolution that, I should concentrate on the whole of a phenomenon versus a reductionist focus on minute components. The project concluded with a final data collection that required reflexivity, a process completely foreign to a fish physiology researcher, further demonstrating the educational and developmental value of the “Dear Data” project for an emerging social science researcher.