Blurring the boundaries between art and data: Listening Post

Yesterday I paid a visit to the Science Museum to try and make sense of all the ideas, objects and themes that are pinging around my head in relation to the new exhibition I’m creating.  I originally went to look at the narrative structures the Science Museum uses when talking about telecommunications and how they deal with a historical thread in different themes. But after looking at lots and lots of labels and text panels, my brain started to melt.

One of the aims of ‘my’ exhibition is to explore the difference between art and technology, and to ask questions about what is art and what is data. Can art be data and can data be art? With this in mind, I stumbled into the Listening Post installation by Mark Hansen and Ben Rubin.
It’s a mesmerising experience, classed as a ‘dynamic portrait’ of online communication.   The installation displays uncensored fragments of text, sampled in real-time, from public internet chatrooms, which are accompanied by the rhythm of computer-synthesized voices reading – or as some put it “singing” – the words that flicker over the screens.  It’s really quite beautiful and you do get lost listening to it. It really does challenge the visitor to think differently about data.

I’m really looking forward to delving deeper into this idea about the different between art and data, or lack thereof, using UCL Art Museum collections as a base for discussion.  I’d be interested to know if anyone has any other beautiful examples of installations that blur the boundaries between art and data.

Marks and Sparks:the clothes, the food…the exhibition?

AM&S tannoy announcement in Marks and Spencer pricked my ears last week ‘Marks in Time, It’s your heritage’.  I think that’s fantastic.  I’ve grown up with Marks and Sparks, it’s always been there, and i trust it.  My I even worked there a long time ago.   What I found interesting is that they have made a really big deal of their 125year anniversary. And it seems the public have embraced it too.  And now there’s an exhibition. It aims to celebrate the role M&S has played in British cultural history from the beginning and looking towards what M&S will have to offer in the future.  And there’s a website!! Full of lovely images and interesting facts, for example Marks and Spencer’s employees in 1941 raised £5000 to buy a spitfire for the war effort. I like it. Its nice to think that shops like Marks and Spencer realise they do play a large role in people’s lives and it has a responsibility to share its archives and its history with the public. Well done M&S!

Details of how to visit the exhibition can be found here