Visiting Big Bang Data

I finally got a chance to visit the exhibition Big Bang Data at the Embankment Galleries, Somerset House this week. I had heard good things about it, and of course I am a big fan of Dear Data so I couldn’t pass up the chance to see those postcards in real life.

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My GPS trace over 4 years around Somerset House from Google location history, visualised using

Good stuff: it was really quite busy. An audience almost all younger than me were obviously enthusiastic and stimulated by it all. And I have to say it was Dear Data that held the most attentions for the longest. There is no patronising text helping people bridging art to science or vice versa; I think that’s less necessary nowadays. A broad church from activism to paranoia to fun. Of all exhibits, I got the Biggest Bang from (awooo) Networks Of London by Ingrid Burrington and Dan Williams. They mapped out the secretive ways in which data moves around the physical world in this town. More than any theory, this brings home what a big deal it is (or is perceived to be by Dilbert’s boss) because of the colossal cost of creating and maintaining all of this infrastructure, often for reasons that seem flimsy to us everyday folk, like selling access to stock market data that might get there a few milliseconds before your competitor gets it.

Not so good: I think process matters more with this than a bunch of paintings. Artists don’t like talking about How I Made Elastic Man but in this setting, it would be nice to have some videos with headphones that delved more into how it is done. However… there’s loads of stuff on the website, so go and look at that even if you’re not in London twiddling your thumbs and looking for intellectual fun this weekend, Personally, also, I knew about or had seen quite a lot of these projects before, but I guess that’s inevitable, and it’s nice to see them in the flesh.

If you want to go, you’d better hurry. It closes on Sunday.


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