By Sofia Sokolove
“Run towards your data,” is artist Laurie Frick’s mantra. Originally trained as an engineer, Frick now uses her background in tech to create large-scale mixed-media and visually stunning pieces, transforming personal data into abstract artwork. Her unique approach and ability to seamlessly navigate the intersection between the visual arts and science is gaining her well-deserved national attention in both the creative and technology industries.
Frick is pretty into self-surveillance. She has an EEG monitor to measure sleep patterns, a calorie counting app, a wireless scale and a time tracking logging system on her computer that records where she spends her time online — just to name a few. “We’re at this moment in the world where everything’s becoming tracked and measured about us. And people are a little freaked out, or they find it a little creepy or they’re worried,” Frick explains. She, on the other hand, sees it as an opportunity to understand ourselves in a really intricate way: “It’s almost like technology boosted mindfulness.”
The way she creates her “data selfies” as she sometimes jokingly calls them is this: she takes the numbers and data from her various measurement tools (data she sees as “unapproachable” on its own), and studies the algorithms and patterns. She then uses different types of colorful, textured materials like wood, leather or recycled paper, to create abstract visual representations of those patterns. “It really is a sense of self,” says Frick of the process. “You see the colors and the patterns that feel familiar [and] you can start to read or recognize things.”
Frick believes data can help us get to know ourselves in a deeply intimate way, and her goal is to present it in a way that’s consumable. “Art gets people to look a lot longer,” she explains. “It holds you, it sort of grabs an emotional part of you that a chart or a paragraph doesn’t.”
It’s that idea that was behind “FRICKbits,” her app that launched after a successful Kickstarter campaign in November of last year. “It’s not trying to be anything complicated.” The app, which was built by Austin digital project studio thirteen23, takes location data from your phone and abstracts it. “You earn small bits and clusters for the places you go all the time,” Frick says of the app, which was modeled after a series of her watercolor pattern portraits and allows you to choose a color palette “It’s a simple way for people to experiment with ‘Oh my god, I get my data back in this kind of pattern.’”
Frick has felt strongly since starting her self-surveillance work nearly five years ago that our behavioral patterns are our own, and we should reclaim them as such. “Life makes beautiful patterns, it belongs to you,” is another mantra of Frick’s. “In the future,” she says, “different companies [are] going to know a ton about you, and I thought, ‘Well alright what if you could get all that data and use it as a way to understand who you are?’” Her concepts have been well received in the art world — in addition to her recent solo exhibition this summer at the renowned Pavel Zoubok Gallery in New York City’s Chelsea neighborhood, Frick has been widely exhibited in California and Texas and covered by outlets like The Atlantic, NPR and The Huffington Post.
It’s not just the art world that’s responding to Frick’s work. Recently, she’s started connecting with companies like Samsung and Microsoft. On a recent project with the Samsung labs mobile phones team, Frick was surprised by the company’s interest in making data collection more of a two-way street. “They were really interested in the idea of how all this data that’s gathered in the phone could be a reflection of who you are,” she says. “Samsung was really interested in finding ways to give data back to the user, but the problem they really find is ‘Well, what do we give them? A bunch of spreadsheets? It’s gonna be junk, it’s gonna be this completely unintelligible mess.’ And I said: ‘Well, give it back to them as art.’”
by Joanna Steblay
As the warm weather begins to set in and patio parties hit our calendars, we can’t help but embrace that summertime has returned to Austin. If you’re anything like us, you’ll be celebrating the return of the season with decadent ice cream, healthy smoothies and icy cocktails from your favorite local spots.
For those days when it’s too hot to venture out, we went to Austin’s sweet treat professionals and compiled the ultimate collection of DIY recipes to make from your home. Click through the galleries below to learn how to make everything icy and sweet, from poptails for date night to ice cream sandwiches for a dinner party.more
The spring edition of the Renegade Craft Fair returns for its seventh year in Austin May 14-15 at Fair Market. With over 125 makers on the roster, the scene is sure to be bustling with local artisans and DIYers slinging their unique, one-of-a-kind wares. In addition to great shopping, the RCF offers activities, special showcases and plenty of food and drink options for visitors. This year, celebrate your hard work shopping with a snack from Burro Cheese Kitchen and Lucky Lab Coffee Co. before commemorating the afternoon with some snapshots from Magnolia Photo Booth Co. But before...more
by James Ruiz
Inspired by the beautiful outdoor living spaces featured in our May feature The Space Between, we went window shopping and found some great outdoor furniture and accessories to liven up your outdoor patio, porch and pool. Flip through the galleries below to see how you can add a pop of color and style to your outdoor hideaway.more
Hundreds of people are moving to Austin each day, and downtown is one of the major hubs of growth for the city. Local real estate expert Jude Galligan discusses smart urban growth and what to expect this year as the skyline continues to evolve.
Your blog keeps Austin updated on the latest news in downtown. What is the most exciting development happening right now?
From my point of view, the most exciting development is the Waller Creek District Master Plan. Decades in the making, this transformative project came to life after designers competed for the contract. It is finally coming to downtown, bringing an imaginative chain of parks,...more
by James Ruiz
As you flip through the pages of our February Love Issue, one thing you’ll notice is the beautiful blooms that pop up throughout the magazine. We got some major googly eyes for the bouquets featured in our "Real Weddings" features, and earmarked the TRIBEZA Wedding Guide for even more Pinterest-worthy petals.
Instead of letting all that inspiration go to waste, we tried our hand at flower arranging to see what we could create. Since we consider ourselves floral design novices, we asked a few top designers...more