The FARI Brussels Conference returns on 18 November at Studio Flagey in Brussels, find out more.

An Initiative of

Supported by


LSTS-led DATAUNION Seminar explores the interplay of data(bases), power, and practices


Michelle Gay Nidoy

Brussels, Belgium, June 6, 2023 – In today’s data-driven world, the proliferation of databases and the integration of artificial intelligence have become ubiquitous. To discuss these dynamics, the DATAUNION project has gathered researchers and artists to convene and talk about how the new dynamics shape our own practices and power relationships. Co-organized by the DATAUNION project, the Privacy Salon, and the COHUBICOL project, and hosted by FARI AI for the Common Good Institute, the seminar “Databases and Artificial Intelligences: a scholarly and artistic perspective” was conducted to explore concepts and methodologies in research from both academic and artistic perspectives.


“Understanding databases is important to better know an important facet of states’ powers and, ultimately, to know how to properly govern those powers,” stressed Prof. Rocco Bellanova, Research Professor at the Vrije Universiteit Brussel interdisciplinary research group Law, Science, Technology & Society and the Principal Investigator of the ERC funded DATAUNION project, on why the initiative is vital.

To dive deeper into the discussion, DATAUNION invited Francis Hunger, an artist and researcher known for his innovative approach to combining artistic research and media theory. Hunger’s work on the histories of technology as expressions of power constellations adds a unique dimension to the conversation. In his talk, Francis reminded the participants to not only look at the content but to look at the materialities of databases and who is acting on them, stressing the importance and omnipresence of “non-data,” which are all that isn’t formalized but matters in the understanding of the topic.

Joining Francis is artist Jan Kempenaers (Artist in Residence at Privacy Salon) and a diverse range of participants from various backgrounds, including Critical Security Studies, Media, Art, Photography, Data Studies, and Software Design, which makes the seminar interdisciplinary and enriching. The aim is to foster an environment where attendees actively participate in and contribute to the dialogue, providing valuable insights into the evolving landscape of our digital world.

“This seminar opens up the investigation of what it means to bring different research approaches,  practices, and disciplines across the same table, gathered by something that they all recognize as a major stake for them, and with potentially common objectives and goals. Today, by focusing on databases and AI, we have something that brings us together despite our differences,” shared Prof. Bellanova.


The seminar was funded by the European Union (ERC, DATAUNION, project number 101043213). Views and opinions expressed are however those of the authors (organisers, speakers or discussants) only and do not necessarily reflect those of the European Union or the European Research Council. Neither the European Union nor the granting authority can be held responsible for them.






Other news

All news

All news