Finding the blank spots in big data

By Meg Miller

Mimi Onuoha is an artist who works mostly with algorithms, data sets, and digital systems, but her best known work may be a file cabinet. White, metal, and unassuming, it’s the kind that used to line the carpeted halls of office buildings before the advent of Google Drive and iCloud. Sliding open Onuoha’s cabinet reveals a column of familiar brownish-green folders, hooked at the sides and marked on top by plastic tabs. The handwritten labels include: “Publicly available gun trace data,” “Trans people killed or injured in instances of hate crime,” “Muslim mosques/communities surveilled by the FBI/CIA.” But when you open any one of the folders, there’s nothing inside. 

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