Artist Raises Awareness by Telling a Story with City Dataset

July 22, 2015 12:00 pm PST | Data as a Service
Art of Data

We kicked off this “Art of Data” series with a post covering the opening of the exhibit in Kansas City, then followed up with a featured mother-daughter artistic team who managed to morph Kansas City’s budget into a masterstroke.  

Anthony Schmeideler with “Rise”

These data-viz creatives all have in common that they are capable of weaving data into something human, visceral, and provocative. Next up in our series: Anthony Schmeideler, who used a dataset on Kansas City’s homicides for inspiration.

Featured artist: Anthony Schmeideler

Title: Rise

Schmeideler’s chosen city dataset: City Homicides: 1926 to Projected 2014

About the piece: The piece was based off of Kansas City homicide statistics since 1926. Homicides are a grim reality faced by all major metropolitan cities, but even if the number is low, anything other than zero is an accomplishment that can be difficult to celebrate. That is why Rise focuses on the ascent of peace in Kansas City instead. Flags have been used throughout history to initiate surrenders, ceasefires, and times of peace. Here you can raise and lower the KCMO flag to see where we came from, where we are now, and the peaceful city we can aspire to be. The power to create true harmony is in our hands.

In Anthony’s own words:

Anthony Schmeideler
Anthony Schmeideler

Homicide is an outcome controlled by the citizens from beginning to end and it seemed like a very important subject to shed light on. In my work I’m very motivated by impact, that is the actual measurable effect by the things I make. I wasn’t sure if I could actually affect changes to the city’s homicide rate, but I wanted to try and at the very least bring awareness to it and make people understand that they have the power to change it.

At the exhibit, one person said that it “humanized” the statistics. I think, and hope, that means it made them understand that these numbers are people, maybe neighbors, possibly friends, and even family. Many people said that they appreciated the interactive aspect of it. I’m not sure it worked out fully as I planned because a lot of people were afraid to touch it. But to those who were able to actually experience it, I think they may have felt the weight of the bad years and hope in the recent downward trend. It was difficult trying to turn a hard data set into something aspirational.

 Read more from our series on Kansas City’s Art of Data event: Humanizing Data Through Art | Mother-Daughter Team Create Art from Kansas City’s Budget

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