Breaking the pattern – Visualizing gun violence in Cleveland

See project here:

The project
»Breaking the pattern« is a data-driven art piece, exploring the issue of »routine« gun violence in the city of Cleveland. It consists of a visual representation of temporal incidence patterns of gun violence. By exposing occurences of gun violence, the piece offers a new visual vocabulary and perspective on an issue which many people have come to accept as a deterministic reality in an unsafe urban environment in which gun violence has become the background noise and soundtrack to people’s daily lives.

The main piece is an algorithmically-generated image displaying all days in 2018, in which different forms of gun violence (i.e. shots fired, gun injuries, gun deaths) have been reported in the city, based on near real time data from the Gun Violence Archive. Each square represents a single day in 2018, starting with 1 January on the top left corner and ending on 10 November at the bottom right. Each day with reported gun violence is highlighted in a different shade of blue, according to the type of incidence, with darker hues indicating more or heavier gun violence.

»Breaking the pattern« proposes to »paint with data« as an alternative way of understanding the issue of gun violence. Traditional representations often fail to capture fragile experiences and reduce human stories to »machine-readable« numbers. Individual tragedies become mere clinical observations and body counts. This is an attempt to move beyond data’s utility as a simple source of information towards an understanding of it as a material resource which can be used to create a picture relating to real experiences.

Public screening
The piece is on public display as a 8-minute video installation on the Cleveland Institute of Art’s digital mesh screen (11610 Euclid Ave) from 12 – 29 November 2018. 8 minutes is the average response time of a Cleveland police unit to a 911 call that involve »shots fired«.