WHAT WAR LEFT US
Data Art, Data Visualization
Over a year ago the Colombian government and the FARC guerrilla signed a peace agreement that ended a 52-year-long war in the country. The armed conflict between the government and the Marxist guerrilla has been one of the bloodiest in history, claiming the lives of almost one million people and creating over 9 million victims. Despite its deep wounds, the country is working to heal itself by trying find the truth about the crimes that occurred and promising to never allow such events to happen again.
This vase uses the official victims database created by the government (Registro Único de Victimas - RUV). This database is collecting the types of crimes that occurred as well as the amount of victims each of these generated. I wanted to use this dark and sad data in a way that that created something beautiful as a way to communicate the transition between tragedy and peace and as a way to remember that despite all our sufferings, life is still a beautiful thing.
The vase is also a vehicle that takes our grievances away. Spiritually, it's a container able to store our suffering and allowing us to move on and work towards a better future for the country. Although the pain is contained inside, the data remains outside visible to everyone as a reminder that we must heal, but we must never forget.
The first prototype of this project used the same database from the RUV and the visualization was inspired in Indian and Nepalese mandalas. In these cultures a mandala is seen as a representation of the cosmic, the universe, in a circular pattern which leads to a central point. As such, it is a symbol or wholeness, of beginning and end.
Following this symbolic meaning, the design is a representation of the armed conflict in Colombia from beginning to end. As we move forward through time, the war left death, violence and pain. However, with the end of the war and in order to heal, we must accept that our past cannot be changed. We must look forward and try to find the beauty that ultimately can be found in the chaos of the universe.
Bringing this vase into reality was a challenge because of the uneven surface I was working with. In order to make the pattern consistent throughout the vase, I created stencils in Illustrator and then used a vinyl cutter to place them into vinyl, a medium that I could stick on the vase without damaging the paint of the vase.
The symbols of the data are taken from indigenous cultures in Colombia as a representation of the spirituality of the piece. The symbols being used are connected to the crime they are associated with. For example, the symbol that represents "Homicides" is found in graves of the Müisca culture in the center of Colombia.
This is the final result and the legend through which you can understand the data embedded in the vase.