The Agora is an analog interactive installation to play with our data in a tactile and communal way. We can only see data as an invasive, invisible force, that leeches off our actions at unknown moments, and floats away to unknown places. What if we could change this perspective, by changing the medium? If the experience of data was more playful, would we be more open to imagine constructive, critical, and more community-oriented ways to put it to use?
A larger-than-life bar chart and tiny colorful blocks (one represents a piece of data) prompts the passerby to engage in a question – answer game, composing their thoughts with magnetic words on the chart. Together, everyone considers the data already on the board, puts down their opinion, and continues to engage the next passerby with their own question. It is titled “The Agora” as a reference to the ancient Greek democratic space in the public square, where anyone could publicly present and discuss their political arguments.
Designed as a ‘meta-conversation’ about the experiment itself, passerby considered the concept of the installation, composing questions about data, power, knowledge, and the commons, and what it means to them. One of the best observations was that everyone was vocally engaged in a joint composition, helping each other to find a missing magnet word, or pondering their opinions together.
The Agora was the graduate thesis of Monique Grimord for a Master of Fine Arts in Graphic Design at Savannah College of Art & Design. It was awarded the SCAD Outstanding Achievement Award in 2014 and presented at the AIGA Fresh Grad Symposium in the Parson’s Auditorium NYC in 2015.