Research for Responsive Media


data_shadow. The trackable data that a person creates by using technologies such as credit cards, cell phones, and the Internet.[1]


archival; database;interactive;participatory;networked;algorithmic memory; Database Aesthetics;cloud computing;media arts; social media.



In LAB data_shadow during install, Underbelly Arts, Cockatoo Island, 2011.Video Credit Brad Miller.

Can you have a memory without photographing it? Where does a memory live? How do we make sense of them? If it’s online, who owns it? What is association at a global scale? What are the conventions of western time and how might that be visualised or utilised? Can you live forever in the cloud?
data_shadow is a responsive visual database; a memory machine of sorts and a live continuously developing one. The images that constitute the database are a sequence of photographs and videos, collected over the past 11 years and tracks my relationships with people, things, places, and situations (all of which are viewable on the photo-sharing site Flickr®).

They are sequentially embedded with contextual associations arranged (initially) by time and date. This, combined with being able to access and make those images move, appear and disappear – by anyone or anything within view of the camera/sensor in the space where the installation is exhibited, makes manifest the metaphor of memory. As visitors enter the exhibition space their silhouettes, as view from above, are feedback to the viewers via displacement maps that distorts these sequences of images and simultaneously moves these “filmstrips” relative to the viewers position.

Or watch an interview on site during installation with Tega Brain @ COFA Talks gateway.



data_shadow at Underbelly Arts Festival, Cockatoo Island 2011.Photo credit P.J. Bateman


These images can take on a particular and slightly voyeuristic significance. For others, I imagine, it is the generic face anyone. We recognise these compositions, these tableaux vivants, these experiences – the urban middle class individual’s photographs of leisure and tourism. All that distinguishes this collection from the endless expanse of similar imagery is their artist. The vector of all these moments is the artist own existence, “which they affirm and erase simultaneously. We are seeing his life through the eyes of an invisible protagonist. Or are we seeing his life flash before his eyes? Is this how it will be at the moment of death? The ordinariness of our existence spread before us. The objects, people and places that have made up our lives flowing, like data, away from the organising principle of our own subjectivity.” [2]
“The ultimate promise is that the flow of data may restore the flow of life when it is temporarily halted. Biological death becomes a small death, data becomes the through-line that joins old subject to new.” [3]

data_shadow uses a granular synthesis system - a basic sound synthesis method that operates on the micro sound time scale and uses sound samples thus creating a live soundscape. “Like static, the soundtrack turns the viewer into a bar on the radio dial. Through our movements we tune in the flow of time and data. The signal drops in and out of the noise.” [4]. The tracking system uses OpenCV and Processing to track change in the environments. The audio environment uses pd~

[1] The coiner of data shadow was Alan Westin, who first used the term in his 1967 book, Privacy and Freedom.
[2,3,4] Lizzie Muller, Data Flow, Column 5 (2009) 71-74pg, ISSN 1835-3487



data_shadow at Underbelly Arts Festival, Cockatoo Island 2011.Photo credit P.J.. Bateman


Contact Details

Address: P.O. Box 259
Paddington NSW 2021


Email : brad.miller[at]

Nationality: Australian




Brad Miller is an Artist and Design Academic at University of New South Wales, College of Fine Arts, he lives and works in Sydney. He has typically manipulated found images and sound to create single channel video and interactive works exploring memory and associations. With his most recent exhibition augment_me at Artspace in 2009, he worked with personal photographic memories, using synchronized projections in a large-scale installation using multi-channel sound which responded to a machine-vision tracking system. The installation is highly adaptive and portable, with the capability to support changes to its content (photographs, video and sounds) in relation to its’ physical location. Miller was a research room resident (Oct-Dec 2010) at Critical Path, where he investigated machine-vision and choreographed bodies. He presented a working model of augment_me during SEAM2010 and participated in the SEAM laboratory – choreographing in a mediated environment led by Christian Zeigler. In early 2011, he was attached researcher to Chunky Move with Gideon Orbanzek and Reuben Margolis, further exploring the human body as data interface. A new work entitled data_shadow will be developed on Cockatoo Island as part of the Underbelly Arts in July while during September Miller will be working in Shanghai with the multi-disciplinary Design Studio/LAB Rare Earth using augment_me as an experimental research platform and he has also been invited to present a paper at this years ISEA Istanbul. In October he will be in-residence at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris.


Creative Collaborators

Artist: Brad Miller
Programmer: Adam Hinshaw, (see people link)
Sound artist: Ian Andrews, (see people link) Ian also would like to acknowledge Derek Holzer's Particle Chamber patches

Additional Photography: P.J Bateman

Technical Director: Richard Manner

Producer of augment_me was Kate Richards

Develop during Underbelly Arts Lab 2011




data_shadow at Underbelly Arts Festival, Cockatoo Island 2011.Photo credit P.j. Bateman