NEoN Digital Arts Archive

People entering the gallery


Julie Freeman (UK)


2 South Union Street, DD1 4BF

We Need Us is a living artwork, shaped by people and data. It is a real-time online artwork that explores the life of data. Unlike traditional data-visualisation which helps us make sense of information in large data sets, We Need Us investigates the unique properties of data as a whole. The primary material used to create sound and animation in the work is metadata – data about data – from the actions of over a million people participating in the citizen science website, We Need Us would cease to exist without human activity, as with much technology, people are at the heart of the process.

Commissioned by The Space and the Open Data Institute, 2014. New compositions commissioned by NEoN for the 2018 Festival, with further support from the Open Data Institute.

About the Artist

Julie Freeman translates complex processes and data from natural sources into kinetic sculptures, physical objects, images, sound compositions and animations. Her work explores the relationship between science and the natural world; questioning the use of technology in how we translate nature.

Julie’s focus is the investigation of data as an art material, using it to create work which reflects the human condition through the analysis and representation of live animal data. A mix of computer scientist, artist and future speculator, she often works collaboratively and experimentally with organisations, scientists and curators to curate, develop and produce works, projects and exhibitions around the concept of data.

Over the past 15 years, her work has been shown at leading institutions including the V&A, London’s Institute of Contemporary Art, Barbican Centre, and the Science Museum, as well as internationally. Julie has won awards from the Wellcome Trust, the Arts Council, and a fellowship from Nesta, she is a TED senior fellow. In addition to her work at the ODI, Julie is a visiting researcher at the Media & Arts Technology DTC at Queen Mary University of London, and creative director of Fine Arts, a not-for-profit bridging art, technology and human rights.

Julie co-directs the ODI Data as Culture art programme with ODI Associate Curator Hannah Redler Hawes.