About Rachele Riley


Posts by Rachele Riley:

Included in Journal, Studies in Material Thinking Special Issue: Visual/Textual.

I am pleased to announce that my essay, ‘Reflections on Research through Design: The Evolution of Silence,’ for the journal, Studies in Material Thinking, Special Issue: Visual/Textual, Vol.13, 2015, is now published and viewable online. The issue is edited by Jayne Wallace, Joyce Yee & Abigail Durrant, with help from copy editor, Sheila Christofides.

The essay expands upon a presentation I made in September 2013 at ‘Praxis and Poetics: Research Through Design‘ in Newcastle-upon-Tyne/Gateshead, UK. For my contribution to this Special Issue, I further explore a process for destabilizing the visual/textual experience, in this case, by directly embedding the text of my essay into ‘The Evolution of Silence.’ I worked with screen shots of my essay (see below) to design the final layout of my contribution for the journal.

These are the detonations where the essay lives:

Different Data at CUMULUS Milan 2015.

Joshua Singer and I presented our paper, ‘Different Data: Experimental Design Research for Mapping Cities,’ on June 4 at CUMULUS Milan 2015: The Virtuous Circle at the Politecnico di Milano, in Milan, Italy. We joined a panel on Experimenting + Prototyping in Design to discuss our approach to ‘different data’ and critical design. After our talk we were approached by Eloise Smith-Foster from EU Design Radio, inviting us to do a radio interview while at CUMULUS Milan! Our live radio broadcast from Friday, June 5, 2015 can be heard here.

Different Data Detroit (+Stockholm).

Different Data (DD) is a collaborative critical design research group (Rachele Riley, Dan McCafferty and Joshua Singer) who collects, manipulates, and displays data in location-specific public environments. DD maps notions of place by revealing hidden, overlooked and silent narratives (and other aspects) of urban cultural ecologies, using unexpected and often poetic methods for generating and gathering data.

fig. 1 ‘Different Data Detroit (+Stockholm).’ Mixed Media, 10′ x 20′, Installation/working view. Exhibition at Nordes 2015: Design Ecologies, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2015. With Patricio Davila, Daniel McCafferty, Rachele Riley, and Joshua Singer./

We investigate cities using standard datasets and incorporate layers of ‘different data’—data that is affective and subjective; marginal and ephemeral; idiosyncratic and questionable. Pursued publicly, our work forms an intentionally fragmented artifact that creates an alternate or counter-narrative. These explorations are designed to challenge preconceived notions of place and its dynamics, and offer another view of given reality.


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fig. 2, 3 Installation view at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Fall 2014. With Patricio Davila, Daniel McCafferty, Rachele Riley, and Joshua Singer./

In Fall 2014, we participated in a residency as part of DesignInquiry at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) in their Department of Education and Public Engagement (DEPE) Space. We created a 40 by 15 ft layered wall composition and three-dimensional digital environments as ways of presenting a view of the city through multiple paradigms. We mapped various narratives of the city, layering data gathered from diverse sources: open datasets, historical maps, field collections of visual and GIS data, and data generated through studio-based experiments. Outcomes included visualizations of city parcels designated as ‘unknown,’ large collections of typographic typologies from the urban landscape and imaginary structures that delineate hidden pasts, and a mapping of the highest water debt in the city. Rather than examining discrete and specific issues, we used various datasets to make irreverent connections among them, revealing other realities of the city.

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fig. 4 Installation/working view at Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit, Fall 2014. With Patricio Davila, Daniel McCafferty, Rachele Riley, and Joshua Singer./

fig. 5 Video still, ‘Post-it Dérive,’ Joshua Singer and Rachele Riley, 2014./

The project involves making the work in a public open setting and, as such, has a distinct performative quality whereby our process is made visible and is open to all. This approach turns the process of design into an exposition of itself. It demonstrates that giving data form—by deciding what is used or discarded, and how it is experienced—is a creative, experimental, and subjective process. It challenges the authority of data and the process by which it is made meaningful.

The ultimate goal is not to create a single ‘seamless’ artifact (Manovich, Image Future, 2006, p. 25–44), but rather to express the ‘complex and fragmented realities of today’s systems’ (Weiser). ‘We should pay attention instead,’ as Mark Weiser puts it, ‘…to the seams and necessary disruptions: aiming at cities that maintain “seamful systems, with beautiful seams.”‘ (Lynch, Wasting Away—An Exploration of Waste: What It Is, How It Happens, Why We Fear It, How To Do It Well, 1991)



fig. 6, 7, 8 ‘Different Data Detroit (+Stockholm).’ Mixed Media, 10′ x 20′, Installation/working view. Exhibition at Nordes 2015: Design Ecologies, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2015. With Patricio Davila, Daniel McCafferty, Rachele Riley, and Joshua Singer./

In June 2015, we carried out the next iteration of our project: ‘Different Data Detroit (+Stockholm)’ at the Nordic Design Research Conference in Stockholm (NORDES). We brought the outcomes of the Detroit project to Stockholm and merged these two ecologies on the walls of the exhibition space over the course of the four-day conference. We proposed that the discursive relationship between these two cities is nascent and probable, on various levels. There were connections that we could presuppose (structure, form, system, mythology) and those that could be realized only through discovery during the work in the space during the conference. These connections ran deep, even if they were forced by our subjective measurements and even if only a fiction (which is enough). In keeping with the methods of Different Data, the Detroit (+Stockholm) project was both methodical and poetic, creating a link between and a layering of the two cities of both factual and speculative comparisons.


fig. 9, 10 ‘Different Data Detroit (+Stockholm).’ Mixed Media, 10′ x 20′, Installation/working view. Exhibition at Nordes 2015: Design Ecologies, Stockholm, Sweden, June 2015. With Patricio Davila, Daniel McCafferty, Rachele Riley, and Joshua Singer./

(statement crafted by Rachele Riley, Dan McCafferty, and Joshua Singer)

Presenting at CUMULUS Milan 2015.

I am very excited to announce that I will be presenting a paper this June at CUMULUS Milan 2015: The Virtuous Circle with my co-author, Joshua Singer. The conference will take place in Milan, Italy, from June 3–7, 2015. Our paper will be included in the proceedings and published by McGraw-Hill Education. We are joining a panel on Experimenting/Prototyping to discuss our approach to and consideration of ‘different data’ and critical design.


We will be sharing our individual projects, The Evolution of Silence (me) and Ad-Hoc Atlas (JS), as well as our recent collaborative work (with Dan McCafferty and Patricio Davila), Different Data Detroit, which was exhibited at the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit (MOCAD) as part of DesignInquiry’s DEPE Space residency in Fall 2014.

About the conference:
Cumulus Milan 2015: The Virtuous Circle. Design Culture and Experimentation.
Design comes out of the interaction between a practice, which seeks to change the state of things, and a culture, which makes sense of this change. The way this happens evolves with time: practices and cultures evolve and so do the ways they interact; and the attention that is paid at different moments to one or other of these interacting polarities also evolves. In the current period of turbulent transformation of society and the economy, it is important to go back and reflect on the cultural dimension of design, its capacity to produce not only solutions but also meanings, and its relations with pragmatic aspects. Good design does not limit itself to tackling functional and technological questions, but it also always adopts a specific cultural approach that emerges, takes shape and changes direction through a continuous circle of experimenting and reflecting. (read more at the conference website)

Words on NO QUO.

Yoko Ono writes, in her July 23, 2014 piece, ‘Uncover’ (reprinted in The New York Times in January 2015): ‘We want to be able to say that we are on the road of discovery. The word discovery has a powerful tone…but actually, we are not discovering anything. We are just uncovering what is already there.’ Discovery comes with prestige, and we are attracted to ‘the idea of achievement.’ Connecting the idea of attaining power to our attraction to violence, Yoko Ono suggests—within each of us lies the impediment to world-changing peace; and it is for us to each disrupt.

DesignInquiry’s June 2015 program, NO QUO, explores counter positions to the ‘status quo’ and extreme or subverted notions of ‘quid pro quo.’ With respect to Yoko Ono’s words above, perhaps the idea of ‘uncover’ can extend NO QUO’s call—to question the assumptions we make as designers.

What is a NO QUO approach towards knowledge creation, towards design? Engaging a subject or environment through a process of ‘uncover and agitate,’ let’s generate something from what was written-off or perceived as nothingness. Let’s expose, not suppose, and experience what is uncomfortable. Let’s invent ways to connect the previously undervalued to a collective significance. There is political, social, emotional and aesthetic impact to our work. NO QUO’s critical design stance is not a simple mode of opposition and negation, but of attention. What happens when our focus is on the marginal, on what is unofficial, but already there?

Acting in Translation, SIGGRAPH 2014.


SIGGRAPH 2014 took place in Vancouver, Canada from August 10–14. I am so glad I was able to participate in the Art Gallery this year. The theme ‘Acting in Translation’ explored alternate meaning, approaches to knowledge, and critical technological experience. I met amazing people: this year’s Art Gallery curator, Basak Senova, an amazing woman and designer; the Art Gallery committee: Mushon Zer-Aviv, Sue Gollifer, Kate Armstrong, and Amit Zoran; and, of course, the other artists exhibiting: especially Emilio Vavarella, Zohar Kfir, Jeff Ong, and Alon Chitayat. They are all a truly inspiring and intelligent group. Meeting and sharing thoughts with them was such a positive and enriching experience. I know it will have a lasting effect on me and on my work. Another amazing PLUS was the fact that Nonie Kimpitak attended SIGGRAPH this year. Nonie was an early contributor to my fundraiser last year for ‘The Evolution of Silence.’ It was great to be able to share the experience with her. This is my first realization of the map and archive as an installation. Emily Luce from DesignInquiry also came down to Vancouver to show her support. Cheers to you all!


Here is the installation before the show opened, before the lighting was arranged:
The exhibition was open every day to SIGGRAPH attendees:

The exhibition was held in a massive convention hall. A metal armature was constructed and a projection screen was mounted at a roughly 25 degree angle. The projector was mounted from high above on the opposite side and in the center stood a kiosk stand with a mouse. A MacMini and sound mixer were inside the stand. Speakers were positioned at the base of the screen. The site was presented live from the web. Anyone attending the conference had access to the work in the Art Gallery. Volunteers were stationed near works to introduce or clarify. I worked with some amazing young people who presented the work well. A great experience all around.

Selected for 2014 SIGGRAPH Art Gallery.

I am so pleased to announce that The Evolution of Silence will be included in the 2014 SIGGRAPH Art Gallery this August! The exhibition will take place from August 11–14, 2014 in Vancouver, BC, and is held in conjunction with 2014 SIGGRAPH: an International Conference and Exhibition on Computer Graphics and Interactive Techniques.



The theme of the SIGGRAPH 2014 Art Gallery is “Acting in Translation.” (from their open call) ‘Translation indicates a detached and forward movement from the source. It is also a freeing act, which paradoxically contains a burden of responsibility for the source. Therefore, this movement has limits and fine borderlines, yet it could designate “more” than the source. Translation is a call for other realities and also another way to see other realities. Translation can also blend “fact” with fiction by blurring the difference between them. In this vein, “translation” as a term could be interpreted in multiple ways on different layers of perception. While this term indicates a mechanical act, it may also refer to global and local societal developments such as resistance movements, alternative economies, information leaks, migration flows, mobility, etc.’

All types of work are submitted to SIGGRAPH: 2D and 3D artworks, interactive, electronically mediated Augmented Reality (AR), mixed-media installations and performances, web-based art, responsive media, time-based works, works leveraging mobile technologies, works using digital communities and social media, robotics, touch-screens, wearable art, mediated music, sound and audio.

I am very excited to be showing in this context. Instead of showing it from a monitor screen, this time I will be projecting onto a floating screen constructed at an angle. The goal is that the landscape and map will appear as an extension of the space and the user.

This year’s jury includes:
Basak Senova (curator and designer; the Art Gallery Chair 2014; lecturer at Department of Media and Visual Arts at Koç University),
Mona Kasra (artist and educator; the Conference Chair 2016; digital media scholar at University of Texas),
Amit Zoran (HCI and craft researcher; the Art Gallery Chair 2015; Post-Doc at the Fluid Interfaces Group, MIT Media Lab),
Kate Armstrong (curator, artist and writer; Director of the Social + Interactive Media Centre at Emily Carr University of Art + Design),
Cezanne Charles (artist, designer and policywonk; Co-Director of rootoftwo – hybrid design studio, Director of Creative Industries at ArtServe Michigan), and
Mushon Zer-Aviv (designer, educator and media activist, faculty member at Shenkar College of Engineering, Design and Art).

There will be an opening reception on Tuesday, August 12 from 2–3:30 pm. In addition I will be giving an Artist Talk on Wednesday, August 13. Here is the full schedule of talks and projects:

Tuesday, 12 August 
Art Gallery Talk SESSION 1
Moderator: Basak Senova, Koc University and SIGGRAPH 2014 Art Gallery Chair 
Tuesday, 12 August, 2.00pm -3:30 pm

Art Gallery Panel: On SIGGRAPH Art Gallery: Basak Senova in Conversation Sue Gollifer, Mona Kasra, and Burak Arikan. 

Wednesday, 13 August
Art Gallery Talk SESSION 2
Moderator: Basak Senova, Koc University and SIGGRAPH 2014 Art Gallery Chair 
Wednesday, 13 August, 10.45-12.15 pm 

Points of View
Zohar Kfir
Subway Stories 
Alon Chitayat Animishmish Studio/ITP and Jeff Ong ITP, New York University
The Evolution of Silence
Rachele Riley

Art Gallery Talk SESSION 3
Moderator: Basak Senova, Koc University and SIGGRAPH 2014 Art Gallery Chair 
Wednesday. 13 August, 2:00pm -3:30pm

Can digital art have the same emotional impact and historical significance as masterworks in painting, drawing, and sculpture?
Joseph Farbrook, Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Inmi Lee, Kutztown University

Thursday, 14 August
Art Gallery Talk SESSION 4
Moderator: Basak Senova, Koc University and SIGGRAPH 2014 Art Gallery Chair 
Thursday, 14 August, 10.45-12.15
On Everyware
Hyunwoo Bang 
Yunsil Heo

Technological Error, Power and Metamorphosis
Emilio Vavarella

From Virtual to Reality
Ed Konowal/GraphicsNet


Thanks again, everyone, for helping me fund my project and enabling me to take it to this level. I am very grateful!

Official Honoree in NetArt in The 18th Annual Webby Awards.

Amazing news! ‘The Evolution of Silence’ has been selected as an Official Honoree in The 18th Annual Webby Awards in the NetArt category!

Link to Official Honorees in NetArt:

The Webby Awards is hailed as the ‘Internet’s highest honor’ by The New York Times. Presented by the International Academy of Digital Arts and Sciences (IADAS), it is the leading international award honoring excellence on the Internet. With 12,000 entries received from all 50 US states and over 60 countries, the Official Honoree distinction is awarded to the top 15 percent of all work entered that exhibits remarkable achievement.

Thank you Danniel Gaidula, my incredible Technical Consultant and Developer. Thank you to everyone who has supported my project—especially in my recent fundraising campaign. I am so grateful!


Version 1.

The Evolution of Silence version 1—www.evolution-of-silence.net

The Hatchfund fundraiser ended in October, and thanks to all my wonderful supporters, I raised $3,827 towards my project!

Part of the funding has already covered the costs of working with web developer, Danniel Gaidula. We have completely revamped and refined the web-based archive. This is a significant programming achievement! ‘The Evolution of Silence’ requires that over 900 individual images be processed at once (to form the aerial tiling of the landscape), and as other image, video, and audio layers are revealed it can become very intense for any system. We developed a unique approach to the design and coding, and I am happy to say that is now live and working!


I invite you to explore:


*Refresh your browser cache if you have visited before.
*Works in Chrome (fastest), Safari, Firefox and IE 10. Requires a modern browser.

Presenting at ‘Praxis and Poetics’ at the BALTIC in Gateshead, UK.

Presentation at 'Praxis and Poetics: Research Through Design,' September 4, 2013

Rachele Riley presenting ‘The Evolution of Silence’ at ‘Praxis and Poetics’ at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK on September 4, 2013. Photo by Dr Joyce Yee.

I traveled to England on September 2 to participate in the conference ‘Praxis and Poetics: Research Through Design.’ The conference was held at the BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead, UK, just over the Millennium Bridge and across the river from Newcastle-upon-Tyne, a beautiful university city with a mix of old and new architecture, which I was able to explore one afternoon on foot. I am so happy that I was able to attend this event and thrilled to present and exhibit ‘The Evolution of Silence’ in its newly re-coded format. It was a celebratory week for me and wonderful to share the archive beyond the U.S.

Millennium Bridge and the BALTIC.

Millennium Bridge and the BALTIC.

Here is a post from Vicky Teinaki who blogged about the conference:

“Rachele Riley went beyond whether the truth is out there to the history we forget in ‘The Evolution of Silence.’ Her work is investigating the decades of nuclear testing that went on in the Nevada desert, and through it the changing opinions of nuclear testing…”

Read the full post here.

Link to ‘The Evolution of Silence.’

Installation detail of 'The Evolution of Silence' at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. ©Rachele Riley, 2013

Detail of ‘The Evolution of Silence’ at the Baltic Centre for Contemporary Art. ©Rachele Riley, 2013

Thank you to The University of the Arts in Philadelphia and to my family for travel support, to Danniel Gaidula for revamping the site, and to everyone who generously contributed to my project via USA Projects. The archive looked amazing on the high resolution monitor and received incredible response. There are several conversation threads that linger in my mind; I am now finding time to probe them. Several people expressed an interest in contributing to the archive through its (soon-to-be-developed) participatory layer. It was inspiring to meet designers (mainly from Asia, Europe, and Australia) who are engaged in diverse research and are investigating new modes of delivery. It was an awe-tastic week.



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