We meet Jodi Newcombe after a media call for the incredibly diverse group of collaborators - artists, growers, performers, foodies and weedy ones - who got together to fill the six-week long public program of events inside the gargantuan Rocks Windmill.
While we were preparing to host Guerrilla Dinners with the Youth Food Movement, Jodi was preparing to wow Sydney-siders with her interactive project ElectriCITY Sparks - a week long program dedicated to uncovering ways to make a sustainable energy future a reality (see more below).
Although based in Melbourne, Jodi spoke her multiple avenues of involvement in Sydney's creative community. When we spoke there was an upcoming talk: Make Data Beautiful at Vivid Ideas and planning for events inside the Rocks Windmill. But soon she would be biting off even more in form of a big data interpretation project with the City of Sydney - 'Sensing Sydney'. This is a projects which will no doubt inform and be informed by the PhD she is (also!) undertaking in creatively interpreting big data.
We found a mutual passion in showing people exciting experiences that stimulate their senses in order to get stimulate their brain around bigger ideas: climate change, ecology, humanity's relationship with nature, and lately for Jodi, the potential of big data.
Jodi is trained as an economist - so is no stranger to data - but has always had a creative heart, working closely with the arts sector. Now Jodi works at the intersection of art, data and sustainability. It's a heady and hearty mix that makes her work so different from anything else that's out there as far as public engagement projects around sustainability go. In every case, there's a beautiful artefact but also compelling data that combine to tell a rich story.
Jodi's underlying motivation is to encourage the creative in all of us in order to respond to the challenges facing our generation. Working via her organisation Carbon Arts, Jodi suggests that “if we’re to adapt to a changing climate, and a more sustainable way of life, we need to create new cultures around sustainable living” – adding that “they have to appeal to people, which for me, proposes an immensely exciting journey.”
Making Data Beautiful
Jodi works at the intersection of arts, sustainability and data. Important work, but she puts it beautifully:
"data about grass, trees and flowers will never be as important as grass, trees and flowers"
The Melbourne Mussel Choir
Imagine attaching smart meters to mussels, and not only monitoring their activity but connecting this activity to sound in order to hear the mussels 'sing' about the quality of the water they are sitting in. This projects encourages people to think about themselves within a community of being that includes other species that live in water, and is currently proving to be a brilliant, tangible and engaging tool for school-aged education about Victoria Harbour.
ElectriCITY Sparks at the Rocks WindmillJodi has been involved with a ridiculous list of brilliant creations and concoctions through her organisation Carbon Arts. Below we take you on a whirlwind tour through a few of Jodi's incredibly colourful, but also powerful projects is below:
All it takes is for one bright idea to resonate and hey presto! Before you know it, our communal behaviour changes and the world is a better place. This is the understanding driving the Carbon Arts and Media Lab Melbourne's collaboration, ElectriCITY Sparks; a week long program dedicated to uncovering creative ways to make a sustainable, energy-efficient future a reality.
The Australian Future Foods Laboratory
The Australian Future Foods Lab is an artist collective that seeks to re-ignite tastebuds and the cultural imagination in support of emerging and sustainable food systems. This laboratory is the parent of incredible events: the Native Botanicals Dinner, Elixir Bar, Future Foods Feast, Roundangle, Wilderness Adventures for the Palate, Drought and Flooding Rains: the dinner.
Jodi left us with a copy of 'The Future Food Times' - a publications prepared by the Australian Future Foods Laboratory (a Carbon Arts project) which is an imaginatively and beautifully put together projection of the future of our food system