Fiona Mc Donald

54.027012° N, -6.204499° W

Fire Mountain~Ambient Light Lux

Fast Fourier Transform

[Blanket bog ~ 7130]

In search of blanket bog

[Ambient Light ~ OSc]

Fiona Mc Donald’s practice is at the intersection of art and engineering, working primarily with sculpture, sound, installation, print, hardware and code to create process-based data-driven works. Recent works explore data from the natural environment. This work creates an interface between the slow, small changes which constantly occur in the natural world and technological systems.

In the five short video works at VISUAL, custom-designed algorithms are used to transcode environmental data collected while traversing a mountainscape into generative soundscapes and drawings. The environmental data, ambient light, temperature and humidity is collected by sensors on a mobile Internet Of Things (IoT) sensor kit with precision location technology from Taoglas, a Next Gen Internet of Things (IoT) company specialising in advanced antennae. The data-driven drawing/animation is layered on a still photograph taken at the data collection point. The data also modulates the frequency of a sine wave oscillator creating a soundscape.

For the duration of Woman in the Machine, Mc Donald has installed a Taoglas® EDGE™ IoT starter kit in the gallery at VISUAL. This comprehensive kit combines cellular and Bluetooth connectivity with a number of onboard sensors and multi-band GNSS and RTK. The data collected from the IoT starter kit is gathered and sent, in real-time, to Taoglas Insights™, a cloud-based software platform that allows for the secure, flexible and reliable gathering of data. The artist will use this to create new web-based data-driven works responding to data collected in real-time on location at VISUAL. These works will update automatically and respond to the changing levels of ambient light, humidity and temperature in the gallery. The first of these works, [Ambient Light ~ OSc], can be viewed above.

In creating this generative work the artist sets up a system that has a certain degree of autonomy. Complexity within the algorithms gives possibilities for a variety of outcomes, meaning the machine can act as a living organic system. The artist also makes subjective decisions around the manipulation of data: the frequency of data collection and the parameters of the software. The work reflects upon ideas of objective knowledge, how algorithms work, and how the decisions we make when transcoding data are not impartial.

Multiple Artworks

Software, hardware, Raspberry Pi , Raspberry Pi monitor, amp, speaker, Texas Instruments projector


Fiona Mc Donald is a Dublin-based interdisciplinary artist. She holds a BSc in Biological Chemistry from the University of Ulster a BA & MA in Fine Art from NCAD & an MSc in Multimedia Systems TCD. Recent exhibitions include Sensing Ecologies, an immersive geo-located audio tour created for Bull Island exploring biodiversity, climate change, sensors and bioindicators (2019); In the age of Conscious Makers, NCAD Gallery (2019) and Gateways, a solo exhibition curated by Linda Shevlin at Roscommon Arts Centre (2018). Mc Donald is currently Artist in Residence in Technology and Innovation at Talent Garden on DCU Alpha Campus, supported by the Arts Council of Ireland and DCU. In 2019 she was an Artist In Residence and was a 2018 recipient of the Arts Council Bursary Award. She is a UCD Parity Studios Associate Artist and a member of OMG Orthogonal Methods Group at CONNECT TCD.

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