Over the past 6 months, I have been pondering the multitude of objects within UCL Museums and Collections in order to create an exhibition which focuses on the impact digital technology is having/had/will have on culture and society.
Here’s the official blurb:
Digital Frontiers: Smart, Connected and Participatory explores how emerging technologies are changing the way we access and experience culture and asks questions about the nature of art and technology. New digital applications are shaping our daily lives; the way we live, work, and study, but is digital technology really new? Digital Frontiers unravels digital culture, illustrates the power of emerging applications and poses questions about technology and culture in the past and in the present.
It’s been hard work and brilliant fun in equal measure.
Selecting objects was great. At first I was getting drawn to the most unusual, weird, gorgeous, amazing objects, but it soon became clear that I was creating a Claire’s Cabinet of Curiosities. Unfortunately that was not the theme of the exhibition, so with the help of some of the fantastic UCL collection curators I began an incredibly steep learning curve of researching individual objects, themes and narratives. This was fascinating but tough at the same time particularly when it came to the Science collections. I love scientific objects and research, but I’m not a scientist, so lots of concepts were completely lost on me. So many awesome objects, but for the most part I didn’t have a clue what they were for! Throughout the process I have become obsessed with Light Bulbs and early calculators! We got there in the end though and yesterday was the 1 day of Installation in the Octagon Gallery!
We have started with the Historical Science collections, as most of the exhibition objects are scientific, focusing on smart and connected technology. I have to give a massive thank you to Nick Booth, the Geology & Historical Sciences curator, who has put up with endless emails, face to face meetings, and more emails mostly about me getting confused between light bulbs and Thermionic Valves. Also massive thanks to Susie Chan, exhibition officer extraordinaire, for keeping the exhibition planning on track, and for not letting me get distracted. Susie, who not only has fashion sense to die for and can run crazy distances (I’m also a fitness freak but Susie is in a completely different league!) also has the ability to run a tight exhibition schedule and make the whole process quite chilled out.
It was really great to start to pull the exhibition together in its physical form as for the most part it’s been either in my head, or abstract discussions and ideas and interpretation noted down on my laptop. It’s really quite strange to see it taking shape in the exhibition space. Yesterday was the first opportunity to see the objects in their exhibition context, how they looked next to other objects, how they looked in the cases, and the panicked realisation that my labels do not do the objects justice. I’m now seriously considering doing a Tate and removing the labels and letting the objects speak for themselves…
Roll on day 2.