‘It’s like when you walk in the street and our faces, bodies, movements, actions and behaviours are constantly captured and transformed into digital data, even if we don’t realise it.’ (Persona Non Data 2016).
The sheer volume of data that is produced in a city such as London is difficult to comprehend and it this vast amount of digital information that is created everyday that is one of the major themes explored within the Big Bang Data exhibition. Tekja’s London social media data stream represents ‘live’ data visually as it is created throughout the city and Persona Non Data takes our data live throughout the exhibition and attempts to visualise it – a data generator within the exhibit.
This vast amount of data created raises questions regarding how it is used, who uses it and how it can be democratised. Miller (2011 Pg 15) talks about how data can be manipulated far more than traditional forms of media like broadcast as it can be ‘compressed and decompressed’, and easily copied. This subjectivity relating to how data can be used is explored in Persona Non Data’s interview regarding their installation where they discuss the importance within their work in encouraging people to question how, why and where their data is being used and raising the question of ‘can I have a say in the process?’
In Usman Haques talk (2016) he raises this concern with the example of the data from a device measuring air pollution that was installed near a device which limits air pollutants within a certain area – Data is controlled and manipulated and cannot be simply ‘read’ Miller talks about how the ‘model of communication’ here is a ‘hierarchical one’ with those in positions of power ‘creating hegemony through the ownership and distribution of a popular culture’ (Miller 2011 Pg 13)- the way our data is controlled can be seen in this way.
Data has revolutionised our experience as humans to such an extent that we are are only at the start of how it will shape our lives. Persona Non Data sums up the sheer volume of data that we are continually creating ‘Data is part of everyday life. You turn on a light on in your flat, you buy a tomato at the supermarkets, you walk along a sidewalk and, somewhere, a line in a database changes’ (2016).
Miller, V. (2011) Understanding Digital Culture. In: Miller, V. Key Elements of Digital Media. Sage: pp 12-21.
Persona Non Data Interview Feb 2016 http://bigbangdata.somersethouse.org.uk/persona-non-data-is-transforming-big-bang-data-into-a-data-generator/
Tekja Video Feb 2016 http://bigbangdata.somersethouse.org.uk/artist/tekja/