2021 > Putting Data into Context work by Arlene Birt_Background Stories - In creative conjunction with Nobel Conference 57

Artist Statement
An ‘aha!’ moment is a sudden insight or discovery: a revelation. It is a spark of clarity that can inspire action. The ‘aha!’ is part emotional experience, part clarity of information, and part new understanding – often emerging from a personal perspective.

To inspire response to our climate crisis, we need to provoke more ‘aha!’ moments.

Using data as source material, this series of projects explore opportunities for ‘aha’ moments by putting climate-related data into context. I strive to help people develop emotional connection to seemingly distant topics by translating complex ideas into meaningful experiences. Transforming abstract concepts and digital data into tangible encounters –making the invisible, visible– I aim to help each of us see our role in the bigger picture.
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Arlene Birt is an infodesigner, visual storyteller, public artist and educator.
Founder and creative director at Background Stories (www.backgroundstories.com), Birt is an expert in information visualization and visual storytelling for social and environmental topics. Background Stories translates complex ideas, systems, and metrics into clear visuals to help people (especially non-experts) understand sustainability. The Background Stories team creates infographics, data visualization, and visual storytelling with change-making organizations across the US, EU, and UK.

An associate professor in Arts Entrepreneurship at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD), Birt has taught courses on infodesign, data visualization, arts entrepreneurship, and sustainability since 2008.
Birt has consulted with the UN’s Environment Program, received a Fulbright grant to research visual communication methods to ‘explain’ sustainability, and was trained by Al Gore to give Climate Reality presentations. Birt’s work on sustainability rides the line between art and communication. She is always on the lookout for opportunities to create participatory, data-focused public artwork.