Art, Data, Money — a walkshop

“I’m from Palestine” said the man selling fruit at the stall by Finsbury Park station, providing a neat conundrum for the participants in this Walkshop being led by Furtherfield.

We were investigating the relationship between art, data and money, and were exploring the different domains of transaction in the local area. The man selling us Spanish fruit at ridiculously low prices fulfilled one of our objectives “to identify places where local and global exchange meet” — even if where he comes from has dubious status as a definable ‘place’.

The importance of a sense of place and identity was one of the themes of the morning: the fact that Finsbury Park is an amazing melting-pot of different cultures and neighbourhoods; a place where different cultures meet and can be themselves; a place rich in local texture; a place of change and transformation.

Led by Paula Crutchlow and Ruth Catlow, our Walkshop was part of a morning spent exploring and discussing the complexities of human transactions, the public and social contracts we enter into on our journeys to work or the shops or the pub, the different ways in which we hand-over our data and our identities every moment of every day — and the way in which the digital is transforming our sense of what constitutes value in art.

We were tasked with identifying digital transactions, local-and-global trading exchanges, and ‘trade-exchange’ outside of the digital network. We were asked to be alert to interactions and things which might form part of a daily routine.

The main lesson we all took away from the morning was the need to observe closely, to witness, to capture (through note-taking, sketches and photographs), in order to better understand the ways in which digital ubiquity is transforming our relationship with the world. From signs on new cycle lanes to parking meters, from laws on dog-fouling to a community arts installation offering free books, and the man from an uncertain place selling fruit to itinerant passers-by — all of these are part of a transactional world which is changing fast.

Through the morning session, we were reminded constantly of the ways in which our personal data is part of that transaction. It’s clearly an opportunity for a number of major companies to try and exploit that. But the fact that the transactions are often invisible or hidden could pose real threats to our privacy and will damage our public spaces.

The Art, Data, Money project at Furtherfield aims to makes us think harder about some of the challenges — and maybe to consider alternatives.

More at: http://grahamhitchen.com/blog

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