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been visually translated (ex: graphs, diagrams), while at the same time provoking expectations of what kind of visual vocabulary is considered to be in the domain of “science” or “art”. There are two parts to my process: data collection, and the sculptural or musical translation of data. The first part, data collection, takes place in various forms. If I am looking at a specific environment, I build very low-tech data-collecting devices that collect information on a daily basis. I record both the numbers the devices are measuring as well as daily observations of things the instrument does not register. My own observations and recordings are then compared to sites on the Internet that record similar data nearby. Everything gets collected on clipboards, which end up having tons and tons of charts and numbers and Excel sheets on them. From the many variables I have collected, I will choose two or three to begin the initial translation process. Sometimes I go directly into a sculptural translation. But lately, I have started the translation process by first creating a musical score built by the data I am translating. Since I neither play nor read music, the score looks very nontraditional and functions foremost as a kind of “architectural blueprint” for my sculptures. Basket weaving is my main sculptural medium because it provides me with a simple yet effective three-dimensional grid through which to translate data. The sculpture becomes collaboration between the material, the numbers, and myself. The material I use to translate is reed, which has an inherent tension that does not allow me to completely control it. If I push it too hard, it will simply break. My lack of control ensures that the numbers have as much of a say in creating the form as I do. It is the changing nature of the numbers over time as well as the inherent tension of the reed that create the shape of the sculpture. Only in certain instances do I step in and exert pressure when I sense the piece physically falling apart. I never know what the shape will be beforehand, which often leaves me scratching my head, as some shapes are easier to work with than others. shape will depend on what conceptual aspect I want to further explore, as well as how it will fit together aesthetically. Colors and shapes are assigned to various variables (ex: red for temperature, blue beads for wind strength, etc.), with legends next to the sculpture letting the viewer know what each of them means. These choices are directed through a combination of referencing commonly associated shapes or colors with certain variables (ex: temperature is almost always either red or blue), as well as the availability of materials I happen to have in the studio. Sometimes the sculptures translate multiple sets of data of a specific period—let’s say four months of data on Cape Cod. Other times, the data is more carefully chosen to express a narrative, such as the passing of a specific storm system. SAiA: Your work is wild in color, form, and texture—how did you come to work in the materials that you do? NM: I think a lot about play as a process of thinking something through and as a visceral, tactile language of moving between disciplinary boundaries. A question articulated through science begins with a very different premise— confined by its own language, expectations and rules—than if I address that same question within the context of art. Like an opportunistic leech, I take from both disciplines what I deem as essential in helping me explore what I am curious about. Play allows me to circumvent these boundaries by viewing my sculptures as three-dimensional thoughts in space rather than physical objects. We do some of the most creative learning when we play—when we approach something with no particular outcome in mind, but are open to engage with whatever is being presented to us. The work is light and fun, but only on a surface level. Your first reaction when you see the work is, “Oh, this looks like my construction toy set when I was eight,” but as soon as you recognize the numerical logic that underpins this chaotic playfulness, I think a deeper tone enters the interpretation. This is when I think Once the sculpture is done, I have a temporal the work becomes theatrical and even absurd landscape on which I can plot more data that is at times. When you look at it in the context of related to the initial relationship I was looking what the work is addressing—climate change at. How and what I will translate further on this and weather—the playfulness becomes a com- 30 SciArt in America December 2013