Network Science Research on Display in Barabásilab Exhibition at the Ludwig Museum

How does science end up in a museum for contemporary art? CEU’s Senior Visiting Researcher Albert-László Barabási’s work is the subject and center of the current exhibition, “Barabásilab: Hidden Patterns, The Language of Network Thinking” at Budapest’s Ludwig Museum through Jan. 17, 2021. The exhibition, curated by József Készman, aims to present the last 25 years of research by Boston-based BarabásiLab, led by the Hungarian physicist and network researcher Barabási.

A series of public programs accompanying the exhibition will feature among its speakers Júlia Perczel, PhD candidate at CEU’s Department of Network and Data Science during a presentation on Jan. 9, 2021. The Department of Network and Data Science at CEU is the only program of its kind, carrying out research with a special focus on work across disciplines to bring network and data science tools to the fields of the social sciences and related areas. Milan Janosov, who received his PhD in the program, was also a speaker this fall in conjunction with the exhibit.

Featured in the “Hidden Patterns” exhibition, Barabási’s research focuses on the search for mostly invisible connections and patterns, which link nature, society, language and culture. In translating such work into an art exhibition, the objects on display include striking renderings of network data visualizations.

One such visualization, the Global Art Network, stems from the inquiry of how value is created in systems of art. It draws from the data of 40 years of artist exhibitions tracing the mathematical and statistical significance of connection between arts institutions and how artists acquire opportunities and exhibitions at leading art museums and galleries, thus illustrating the social phenomena of rising artists careers, and predictive models for future success.

Network research and network visualization have been on the rise as scientific tools for the study of cultural and social patterns. These types of visualizations and innovations illuminating social phenomena are also presented annually at CEU’s data visualization exhibition, Data Stories.

The collaborative work of BarabásiLab is credited with building a visual language and vocabulary of networks in an environment where scientists from multiple disciplines collaborate with artists and designers, including Kim Albrecht, Szu Yu Chen, Alice Grishchenko, Mauro Martino, Edson Pavoni. Using state-of-the-art technology (data sculptures, MI, AR, VR, drawing robot), network diagrams and structures visually describe the hidden connections and relationships that underlie the studied phenomena.

Watch this exhibition talk to hear from Barabási in conversation with Ludwig Museum director, theoretician and media artist, Peter Weibel and museum expert, András Szántó dissecting the connection between art and science.