"In his Metaphysics, Aristotle remarked that 'all men by nature
desire to know.' This desire springs from a need to somehow organise our
observations of Nature, as well as the events and activities of daily
life, into some sort of coherent pattern we call 'reality'."
J L Casti, Alternate Realities: Mathematical Models of Nature and Man.
Strange Weather is a long-term project that is currently recruiting users interested in making sense of life. It consists of two components: Firstly, a database that accumulates personal indicators entered by its users (eg. index of well-being, body temperature, alcohol consumption) along with external indicators harvested from the internet (eg. weather in various cities, stock trading indexes, political approval rates, river heights). Secondly, a number of visualisation tools that enable users to mine this collaborative data warehouse, revealing patterns and underlying relationships in the seemingly obscure and unrelated data.
"If I drink 2 coffees a day, get 8 hours sleep and my bank balance is above $500 then my average heart rate at moment of orgasm goes up to 140 bpm."
Chaos theory suggests that the causal relationships in natural systems are complex, unpredictable and interrelated. The "butterfly effect", an often cited example, states that a butterfly's wing flapping in one part of the world might cause a storm elsewhere. Strange Weather enables the user to track the consequences of their small actions on global events.
"Hmmm, when the consistency of my shit is soft, I get less than 5 hours sleep, and spend more than 180 minutes online the Dow Jones Index falls."
This project grew out of my ongoing interest in enlightenment science and a number of scientists of that period. Cesare Lombroso, for example, took obvious delight in classification and structure, weaving and conflating the disparate data he accumulated into complex nets of correlation in order to prove his theories of deviancy. Much of my work has investigated the idea of science as a belief system. While historically western science has prided itself on its objective pursuit of "truth", scientific research is obviously influenced by the world-view of its practitioners and the cultural values of their period.
Strange Weather is a visible manifestation of the desire to make understandable,
that which normally falls outside of the scale of our comprehension. Our
attempts to understand the world and ourselves seem to be both admirable
and absurd. Colliding the personal with the global, Strange Weather is
a diagnostic tool that both elucidates and confounds.