For my curiosity day I travelled up to London to see the new Big Bang Data exhibition at Somerset House. It promised a show of art, selfies and surveillance with artists and designers showing how data is transforming our world. It’s the first exhibition of its kind in the UK, which explores the big data explosion that’s radically transforming our society and culture.
Everyone is aware that they are creating data and there are often stories in the media about its exponential growth the associated advantages and the dangers. People are generating data on a daily basis, through our mobile devices, tablets, social media and online transactions. In 2009 we produced the same quantity of data as the entire history of humanity up to that point!
The exhibition of works and interactive displays took me through the journey of how digital information is produced, stored, organised, used, interpreted and how it is changing our world.
The internet and cloud computing go hand in hand with the growth of big data, the exhibition strips away some of the mystery that surrounds the cloud and explains the perennial question of ‘where is the internet exactly?’
‘Is The Cloud a physical thing?’ Tim Arnall, offers a glimpse of the reality of data storage centres across the globe, it shows empty corridors, vast servers and generators and cables with no sign of human life.
Examples of data storage over the last sixty years ranging from 1950’s punch cards holding 0.08kB of data through to USBs and more recently DNA 739kB/g.
This graphic work describes the processes of censoring in official emails from Transport for London obtained via Freedom of Information.
Curio and Ludovico stole information from a million personal profiles on Facebook to create characters on a false dating website, Lovely-Faces.com, classifying them by their facial features. The project aimed to expose the fragile nature and easy exploitation of our online privacy where personnel data is easily brought and sold. The site only existed for five days, but received over 1000 mentions in the media, 11 threats to sue, and several letters from Facebook’s lawyers.
Data experiment ‘I Know Where your Cat Lives’ by Owen Mundy is a fun take on a similar theme, plotting the location of a million cats posted by owners on social media. Although the Youtube video has humour with a ’Borat’ type presenter it also highlights the darker side of how our data makes us vulnerable by its traceability.
The London Situation Room shows live feeds of tweets, instagram posts and real time travel data visualised in a control centre. The Situation Room is interactive with Sim City style projects where you can make decisions and map out London’s future.
Real time travel data showing movement of people in London on the tubes and train networks.
Special commissioned piece by Tekja displays tweets and status updates posted within a one mile radius of Somerset House.
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Author: Jessica Waller
Jess is a design graduate with a wealth of experience in marketing and project management across a range of industries. She has recently completed a Diploma in Digital Marketing, enabling her to stay connected and on-trend.