Arts, Humanities, and Complex Networks

The Making of Sixty-Nine Days of Close Encounters at The Science Gallery

by Alain Barrat, Ciro Cattuto, Lorenzo Isella, Marco Quaggiotto, Wouter Van den Broeck

Abstract

In the Spring of 2009, the Science Gallery in Dublin, Ireland, held the art-science exhibition Infectious: Stay, which explored mechanisms of contagion and strategies of containment. The visitors of this exhibition were invited to participate in Infectious Sociopatterns, a simulated epidemic of an electronic infectious agent that spreads through close-range proximity of individuals. The simulation system was built on top of the SocioPatterns sensing platform, which uses wearable electronic badges to sense sustained face-to-face proximity – a proxy observable for social contact – among the participants. More than 30,000 visitors participated over the three-month course of the exhibition. All sensor data generated by the system during this period was gathered and stored for use in the scientific research of the SocialPatterns project.

The collected data also served as input for an art-science piece called Sixty-nine Days of Close Encounters at the Science Gallery. This piece visualizes the contact activity at the exhibition over a period of twelve weeks. In the talk we will present a contextualized overview of the end-to-end process that resulted in this piece, from the development and setup of the sensing platform, over the data aggregation and analysis process, to the generation and composition of the final piece.

This work is part of the SocioPatterns project (www.sociopatterns.org), with support from the ISI Foundation in Turin, Italy (www.isi.it), and from the Science Gallery in Dublin, Ireland (www.sciencegallery.com). More details on the scientific aspects related to this work can be found in “What’s in a crowd? Analysis face-to-face behavioral networks”, by L. Isella, J. Stehlé, A. Barrat, C. Cattuto, J.-F. Pinton, and W. Van den Broeck, Journal of Theoretical Biology 271, 166-180 (2011).

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