WAMS #1: Data Rush

When Art Meets Science (WAMS) is organising a set of side events as part of the international fotofestival Noorderlicht. The theme of this year’s edition of the festival is “Data Rush”, exploring the tension between freedom and control, privacy and surveillance in the virtual world.

WAMS is organising an exhibition of objects and installations reflecting on the theme, a debate between scientists and artists on the theme and the relation between art and science in general, as well as a series of lectures exploring the theme from different perspectives.

The aim of the project ‘WAMS #1: Data Rush’ is to further increase the social awareness about these developments, and to boost both scientific and artistic developments in this domain.

About the theme “Data Rush”

‘Data Rush’ is exploring the tension between freedom and control, privacy and surveillance in the virtual world, i.e. the Internet. This tension has immediate consequences also for the ‘real’ world. Start-ups and large Internet services like Facebook and Google offer several useful, fun, neat and sometimes indispensable services for free. These services are free because we, the users, are not the customer but the product. The data that these companies (sometimes without us noticing) collect about us make ourselves ‘readable’ and increasingly predictable. This data is therefore worth a lot of money and is sold to marketers, service providers, and governments. Services like Uber and Airbnb disrupt public transport and the hospitality business.

The consequences of these developments are not always easy to discern. What is clear though is that great power shifts are taking place and that citizens have less and less control. To stay informed, the citizen depends on information services that filter and adjust information based on non-public algorithms. Free, unbiased, news gathering is becoming less and less a matter of course. This has a negative impact on both freedom of expression and the democratic process. Only in recent years have media, art and the wider public shown interest in these issues. Also scientific research has trouble keeping up, with developments in areas like Big Data.


WAMS has selected nine artists to exhibit their object and installations as part of the larger fotofestival Noorderlicht. The venue is the Old Sugar Factory, Energieweg 10, Groningen (directions).

The following artists are part of this exhibition.


On August 23, from 15:00-17:00, a debate among scientists and artists will take place at the festival venue (the Old Sugar Factory, Energieweg 10, Groningen, directions).

With this debate we want to explore the theme “Data Rush” from both the artistic and scientific perspective. We hope this will deliver new insights and approaches. In fact this debate is meant to be the spark for a more ambitious project where we want artists and scientists to work together to produce both scientific and artistic output related to the theme.

Participating scientists are

Participating artists are

The debate will moderated by Jetse Goris (University of Groningen).

For more information about the debate, click here.


During the festival a series of introductory lectures will given by scientists in the field. The lectures are aimed at a general audience, and there will ample opportunity to discuss with the speaker and members of the audience afterwards. Lectures will be in English.

Lectures take place every other Sunday at the festival venue (the Old Sugar Factory, Energieweg 10, Groningen, directions), and start at 15:00.

Sunday September 6, 15:00-16:00
Prof. Jeroen van den Hoven (Technical University Delft) on the ethical dimension of privacy and surveillance: Data protection in the age of Big Data: what is at stake?
Sunday September 20, 15:00-16:00
Dr. Eleni Kosta (Tilburg University) on the legal dimension of privacy and surveillance: Leaving traces, living profiled: the legal challenges from ‘consenting’ to tracking in online and mobile environments.
Sunday October 4, 15:00-16:00
Dr. Jaap-Henk Hoepman (Radboud University, Nijmegen) on the technical dimension of privacy and surveillance: Honest design.

Affiliated events

  • The Noorderlicht International Photofestival, which runs from August 23 to October 11, 2015
  • Zienemaan & Sterren organise a Open-air film festival 2015 on Friday 11, Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 September on the grounds of the Old Sugar Factory.
  • The 4th edition of PRICCAPractice has two exhibitions and two expert meetings which tie in with the subject of ‘Data Rush’. The exhibition will be on display until October 2nd, while the opening and expert meetings will take place on September 4th (when the exhibitions open).


We are grateful for the financial support given by the following organisations to organise these events.




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