31st October - 15th December 2020
Morehshin Allahyari, Corey Hayman, Kumbirai Makumbe, Jonathan Monaghan and Richard Whitby
Curated by Bob Bicknell-Knight
Data Fatigue is an exhibition exploring concepts of representation and capitalisation, within online and offline worlds, the media and daily life. The works on show consider ideas of identity and the commodification and colonisation of objects, people and places, alongside the hyper-consumerism of the present.
The exhibition takes its name from the term data exhaust; a digital trail of data that's generated as a by-product of your online actions and choices. The data created is unconventional and may not have an immediate use to the company who's collecting it. Data exhaust is composed of files generated by web browsers and their plug-ins, tracking and collecting secondary data. For example, monitoring how long your mouse cursor may have hovered over a specific link to a product, rather than which item you actually purchased.
Your own stream of data, or digital footprint, left behind as you navigate through the unlimited expanse of the internet, is the body of data that exists as a result of online actions that can in some way be traced back to you. Your personal footprint is broken down as active and passive data traces, with digital exhaust being made up of the latter.
The act of leaving a trail, one that cannot be erased or overridden, is present throughout the exhibited artworks. In Morehshin Allahyari's 2019 lecture performance, Physical Tactics for Digital Colonialism, the artist explores her research into Digital Colonialism, examining the tendency for information technologies to be deployed in ways that reproduce colonial power relations. Specifically, Allahyari presents how 3D printers and scanners are both used and misused in the production of endangered or lost artefacts within the Middle-East.
In Corey Hayman's 2019 video work Still Life (Trojan Sounds), the artist explores the lineage, and utilises the figure, of the animated children's TV character Rastamouse, to explore the continuous and ongoing commodification and capitalisation of Black British culture by companies and corporations, interrogating and examining problems which arise when representation and commodity structures collide. Out of the Abyss, Jonathan Monaghan's continuously looping 2018 film, combines excessively detailed CGI imagery from modern consumerism and the surveillance state with biblical symbols associated with the Apocalypse, to elicit anxieties about an increasingly uncertain future.
Kumbirai Makumbe's short 2019 film Evo's Turn explores ideas surrounding the link between creator and creation, looking at how an artificial intelligence processes, understands and confronts what it means to be a Black person in today's society. The final artwork in the exhibition, The Lost Ones by Richard Whitby, is a hauntingly claustrophobic film from 2019, offering a nightmarish look at the complex, overly bureaucratic, immigration system in the UK. The work exemplifies the underlying, violent networks that continue to proliferate both within the UK immigration system and any scheme that purports to support the underclass and underrepresented.
The exhibition takes the form of an interactive point and click adventure game, where audience members progress through the show by interacting with each web page, following a trail of breadcrumbs and exhaust fumes, unlocking new areas to discover and digitally unearth the exhibited artworks.
The exhibition is supported by Arts Council England.
The exhibition marks the beginning of a six month program consisting of four online exhibitions, culminating in a physical book and online panel discussion. Each exhibition is connected by the overarching theme of Networks, exposing and exploring the underlying architecture of our daily lives, investigating the social, political, digital and hierarchical networks that we reside within.
The program opens in October 2020, ends in April 2021 and is supported by Arts Council England.