Marcello Cualbu is a Sardinia-born artist living and working between Cagliari and Borca. He is lecturer in New Media at IED Rome, and one of the funders of Progetto Borca, a creative hub in the Dolomites. Numbers about Cagliari is a project about Cagliari, Sardinia, Italy, and its numbers. Marcello explains his ideas and influences behind the project.
Numbers about Cagliari comes from my background in social science, when I was still a student at the University of Cagliari. I started going through databases of the city and I was intrigued by the demographic, social and economical distortions of the city. More recenlty I’ve started wondering about the possibilities of data visualisation and the different softwares we use to do it: what about playing with data reading mistakes? The visualisations that come up using this ‘method’ are random and at times also hilarious.
I am not interested in what we already know about the city, such as the statistics about depopulation or gentrification, they never offer a full picture of the problem. My aim is not to look at data that doesn’t really tell us anything different about Cagliari than what it shows on any other mid-sized Italian cities. The process that I follow usually starts off with a big spreadsheet, to which I apply different filters. The results of this exercise often are enormous fiascos and that’s when things become interesting.
Currently I’ve been looking at various personal data and the numeric sequences they generate. For example Alpha, Beta, Gamma are the visual results of a csv file about civil partnerships between people of different ethnicities. It doesn’t have any statistics relevance, but produces a very interesting graphic outcome.
The graphic elements are the tools to overcome the rules of statistics and the standard way to look at data. It’s about looking at the city from different angles, the less obvious ones. It’s about taking the risk to do so. I like the tensions and the absurdity in these experiments even though they are not ‘acceptable’ from a scientific point of view. Recently I have discovered that a lot of people in Cagliari get injured from car crash with rubbish bins.
I’ve been collecting the best works to produce a publication about the project which is coming out by the end of the year.
For updates about Numbers about Cagliari follow Marcello here