Benedita Souto wastes no time during her DPS year and has sent an insightful review of the Tactical Tech’s Glass Room pop up exhibition.
During my DPS year, I have tried to attend as many different exhibitions and cultural events as I can. One of the best ones I’ve attended so far was the Glass Room, in Charing Cross Road. Half a pop-up exhibition, half a sleek, Apple inspired technology store, the Glass Room was built as an answer to ‘What is Personal data in an age where data is everything but personal?’
Walking down Charing Cross Road many will confuse this new pop-up space with a sleek new store, complete with fully white surfaces and bright lighting. Walking in, however, you quickly realise that’s not quite what the Glass Room is about. Set into four different exhibition sections, it looks into the ways technology is affecting our lives and exactly how our data is being used and distributed. Their main challenge was to translate sometimes complex numbers and ideas into easily understandable ways, especially in the ‘We Know You’ section which focus on translating the impact and influence that GAFAM (Google, Apple, Facebook, Amazon and Microsoft) actually have in our lives. This includes delving into what these companies actually own and how far their influence stretches, which is done through a sculpture piece that uses different coloured lines to connect all the different connections these companies have in what ends up being a complex tapestry.
But there’s more to been seen at the GlassRoom. The other three sections: ‘Something to Hide’, ‘Big Mother’ and ‘Open the Box’ explore subjects from exactly how much of our personal data is shared online and how it is used and sometimes abused to what data we might be sharing without even realising it. The exhibition is especially interesting because of the way it is set up like a technology store, exposing these complex and morally grey issues on small tables and trying to make them as understandable as possible but also never drawing conclusions on wether something is good or bad, right or wrong, instead letting the viewers think for themselves and create their own ideas and opinions on these issues.
What makes the exhibition so successful as well is the way it is set up in an almost familiar set-up. As we browse through these different exhibition pieces we could just as easily be browsing through the newest laptop or smartphone section at any store, which creates a striking yet almost ironical connection between the two. Not only that, but the Glass Room also offers a ‘Data Detox Bar’ where all the concepts presented in the exhibition are put into action by allowing visitors to explore their digital footprint or even to take home a Data Detox Kit, a programme set in eight steps to help you lead a more healthy digital life.
I was impressed with the way this exhibition managed to tackle complex issues related to technology and our personal data and lives without making it sounds condemning or chastising or even without going so far as to sound almost radical. Instead the approach it takes is, as the name reflects, to try and make all this information as transparent as possible so that each person has to decide what to make of it by themselves, an approach I think is the best to take towards this very divisive issue.