Data scientists collaborate with artists to explore global climate data

[21/04/2022] Experts from the School of Informatics have lent their skills to help develop a new interactive climate AI platform in a fascinating project, that’s bringing scientists and artist together to explore global climate data.

The Overlay @ Edinburgh Science Festival Drop In Sessions

The New Real Observatory is an experiential AI' system produced collaboratively between artists and data scientists from Edinburgh University’s EPCC, School of Informatics and Edinburgh College of Art. ‘TNRO’ invites leading digital artists to experiment with environmental datasets, climate models and processing pipelines to fuel a new generation of technology-conscious aesthetics situated in our connection with land, water, air and energy. 

Informatics data scientists on board

Vaishak Belle, Sohan Seth and Daga Panas were involved in the data science aspects of the project. Their goal was to make an AI concept called Generative Adversarial Network (GAN) more accessible to artists to realize their artistic visions around climate change and beyond.

There is a true playful spirit of inquiry in this, and an interplay between following the logic of technology - and questioning it and submitting to the logic of art.

Daga Panas
School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh

Daga Panas was involved in creating the data science pipeline for the project. She was testing algorithms and algorithm settings, adapting state-of-the-art AI to the project’s needs, adding further machine learning and data science algorithms to the processing pipeline, curating data (climate modelling predictions from the Copernicus Climate Data Store), writing back-end code, and some of the front-end code (a web app UI for the artists). 

The project stems from a fresh initiative called the new real, which aims to blend creative arts and AI, to engender cross-disciplinary ideas that touch up on both the science as well as the societal impact of AI. Distinguished outcomes of this initiative include, for example, the AWEN project that shapes the future of climate data art and presented at COP26, and conversations in the climate stage at AIUK-2022.

Vaishak Belle
School of Informatics, University of Edinburgh

The Overlay 

The first of five artistic responses within The New Real Observatory will be presented as part of the Edinburgh Science Festival this year. The Overlay, by artist Inés Cámara Leret, explores the impact of technology in both enabling and hindering our understanding of, and relationship with, the current ecological crisis.  

I'm really excited to share my first moving image work. The Overlay explores the liminal states between experiences, beliefs, feelings and thoughts, within the current climate context.

Inés Cámara Leret

The exhibition forms an exploration into the entanglements that arise when attempting to make global climate data tangible. The film reflects critically and playfully on the gaps that arise when reconciling these global narratives with local environments. The work is motivated by a colour calculated by an AI that has been trained to identify the hue that lies in-between greenery and built environments. The film then follows attempts at making this hue tangible locally and the entanglements that arise in doing so. 

The film will be presented across multiple screens, visible from street level. 

There will be 3 drop in sessions on Saturday 23rd April during the exhibition where visitors can meet the artist and technology team and view a special screening of the work (booking link below) 

The Overlay Exhibition  

Edinburgh Science Festival 

Daily, Fri 22—Sun 24 April, 10 to 5pm 


Inspace, 1 Crichton St, Newington, Edinburgh  

All Ages 

Related links

Science Festival webpage

Drop In Sessions event details on the New Real webpage

Drop In Sessions Eventbrite registration page

Link to more information about The Overlay