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Interaction Research Studio, Datacatcher, 2015. Photo by Gareth Jones.

The Datacatcher is a brightly coloured handheld device, reminiscent of a flashlight. It has been designed to help build relationships between people’s experiences of data and their surroundings. Originally designed as a mobile device, the Datacatcher displays short snippets of thought-provoking socio- political data related to the area into which it is taken. Messages include factual information, such as typical income, education levels, and the number of pubs or GP surgeries nearby. Turning the control dial shows previous messages, or proposes more provocative or tongue-in-cheek questions such as “what can you hear?” or “how does it smell here?”

Using this device, people are able to build a multi-layered picture of their local environment that is data-rich and multi-sensory. Some of the sources of data include the Office for National Statistics, Fix My Street, Twitter, Wikipedia, Yahoo Finance and Zoopla.

Courtesy of the artist. Additional data supplied by the followingsources: The Environment Agency, Department of Energy and ClimateChange, The Police, Experian Mosaic, Open Data Communities, Weather Underground and They Work For You. Datacatcher is part of a five year project funded by the European Research Council (ERC) conducted by a group of researchers based in the Interaction Research Studio at Goldsmiths, University of London.