Guillaume Boutard

Data reuse and creative processes

The intersection of art and science is an infinite domain of practice as well as academic inquiry, but the recent investment of the academic community in research data management (Pasquetto, Randles & Borgman, 2017) as well as the convergence of data curation and open data (Lee et al., 2016) bring new critical questions to this domain. How creative processes may extend the notion of value related to data and data reuse, and which methodology may prove relevant for such an investigation?

Data reuse is a very specific perspective on the relationship between art and science, which contrasts with a wide range of creative practices related to the use of scientific models (either logically or metaphorically, for example in Hèctor Parra Esteve’s Hypermusic Prologue) or the integration of non-anthropogenic signals (for example, the work of Joyce Hinterding in media arts or Gerard Grisey’s composition Le Noir de l’Étoile). Many contemporary artists across multiple domains have integrated external data (more or less related to scientific projects) in their practice for specific works. One classic example would be the work of sound artist Ryoji Ikeda, e.g. the data materialisation in his 2006 work Datamatics.

The Non-Designated Reuse of Research Data (NoDReaD) project is investigating data reuse in creative processes from a qualitative perspective. It aims at moving away from a positivist view of data, especially in relation to its academically-reviewed value, and bring forward subjective, political, ethical or aesthetical values potentially associated with data. Most methodologies used in relation to creative processes investigations tend to focus on a retroactive or ethnographic account of an activity with an attention to accuracy and authenticity (see, for example, Donin, 2012, p. 17). Methodological frameworks provide the set of constraints for data collection and analysis for such perspectives.
NoDReaD is interested in the personal subjective involvement with an object such as data, which is consistent with a phenomenological perspective. The project is thus built on semi-structured interviews with artists in multiple domain: new media artists, composers and sound artists. Data collection and analysis is based on Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (Smith, 1996), an inductive method of inquiry, similarly to Grounded Theory but with an emphasis on individual understandings of a phenomenon or object.

Preliminary results, stemming from interviews with sound artists and multimedia artists, emphasize notions of data performativity, political-aesthetical ‘synesthesies’, as well as complex discursive relations to real-time.



Donin, N. (2012). Empirical and historical musicologies of creative processes: Towards a cross-fertilization. In D. Collins (Ed.), The act of musical composition: Studies in the creative process (pp. 1–26). Burlington, VT: Ashgate Publishing Limited.

Lee, C. A., Allard, S., McGovern, N., & Bishop, A. (2016). Open Data Meets Digital Curation: An Investigation of Practices and Needs | International Journal of Digital Curation. International Journal of Digital Curation, 11(2), 115–125.

Pasquetto, I., Randles, B., & Borgman, C. (2017). On the Reuse of Scientific Data. Data Science Journal, 16. Retrieved from 2017-008/

Smith, J. A. (1996). Beyond the divide between cognition and discourse: Using interpretative phenomenological analysis in health psychology. Psychology & Health, 11(2), 261–271.


Université de Montréal, Canada

Is an assistant professor in the E!cole de bibliothe!conomie et des sciences de l’information at Universite!de Montre!al. His research interests include digital curation and creative process documentation methodologies. He holds a Ph.D. in Information Studies (McGill University), a M.Sc. in Computer Science (Pierre et Marie Curie University-Paris VI), a M.Sc. in Geophysics (Pierre et Marie Curie University-Paris VI), and conducted a two- year postdoctoral research in the Faculte!de Musique at Universite!de Montre!al. He previously worked at IRCAM (Institut de Recherche et Coordination Acoustique/Musique) as an engineer from 2001 to 2009, and at University at Buffalo (SUNY Buffalo) as an assistant professor from 2015 to 2017.