London

In this city of dreams,

anything is plausible

because most things are inexhaustible. 




I have discovered happiness here 

and that is all that matters.

To have a life that will end in tatters

is impossible here, 

in this wondrous playground

because opportunity, 

can be found.

‘Big Bang Data’ – “dumbfounding but not headache inducing”

London’s new exhibition delves into datafication – yeah I’d never heard of the term either.

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Data’s reshaping our world if you didn’t already know. But for the better? Well, Somerset House’s ‘Big Bang Data’ is exploring that exact question. For more money than most would like to part with you can grant yourself access to the work of the creatives that have taken data under their wing and wrestled with it in more ways than one. On display is an enlightening array of work that as a whole appears to present the profound idea that society is data-riddled. From updating our statuses and specifying what it is that we’re listening to or swiping right to a real catch 5km away – we’re besotted with the technology that is directly responsible for generating the large amounts of data we have gathered.

It is said that we live in an age of datafication an age regarded by many as being dangerous. Work such as Owen Mundy’s ‘I Know Where Your Cat Lives’, which focuses on data collation, highlights how easily we, without considerable thought, will share not only pictures of our adorable little kitties but alarmingly, our location. Although rather humorous, Mundy’s work is almost too frightening to enjoy.

As well as exploring data collation, the exhibition also explores data presentation which is not as unnerving but in fact a lot more comical – as much of the data used fails to affect the masses. Ellie Harrison’s ‘Vending Machine’ is a great example of how humour is being injected into what could potentially be a rather dark age for society. Harrison has programmed a vending machine to release a packet of crisps every time the BBC’s news channel uses a word they are renowned for spouting. I’m not going to tell porkies, other than the BBC’s obvious repetition of certain language I didn’t really know what sort of point Harrison was trying to convey, it seemed a little absurd if I’m to be totally honest – the data that was being collected was merely eye-opening for me but for some it may have offered a small insight into a very niche issue.

To forge art, many others had incorporated unimportant and irrelevant data into their work too and I couldn’t help but come to the conclusion that these artists were attempting to unearth a new movement, a movement that appeared to merge simplistic aesthetics with insignificant data. For example, Stefanie Posarec and Giorgia Lupi’s ‘Dear Data’ takes skill-less lines and a minimalistic key to present data in an inventive way. I very much enjoyed having to refer to the key in order to fully comprehend the work. Never have I been so active when observing a piece of work. Of course one is normally very active when interpreting art but sadly I am very lazy and if I’m given direction in the way of a key, I’ll utilise it.

Another piece that appeared to be a part of the same movement was Jaime Serra’s ‘Vida sexual d’una parella estable’ (A stable sex life). The piece documents Serra and his wife’s sex life over the period of a year using, just like Posarec and Lupi, simple lines and a very basic key. For such a technically simplistic piece of art, I found the piece to be very revealing in that patterns emerged.

I hate to sound as if I’m plugging but the pieces of work on display are certainly not to be missed if you want to enlighten yourself. I will admit that in parts, the exhibition was difficult to comprehend as I like many, found it hard to envisage the vast amount of intangible data we have produced. But believe me when I say that, ‘Big Bang Data’ is dumbfounding and not headache inducing.

After viewing the exhibition, I was left both inspired and disheartened. Inspired because of the shear inventiveness of the majority of the work yet disheartened because of how easy data is to acquire and manipulate. Fraud and impersonation are issues I don’t want to have to deal with but they were the problems that came to mind as I made my way through the exhibition. Artists highlighted how readily available data was to access and that is what frightens me the most.

Don’t worry about me though, I wont lose sleep over my new anxiety. Society is online and will almost probably never log off. With modernity comes flaws so here is to more data.

Charlie Elliott: ‘I… smoke lots of weed to numb the pain,’ an interview with Lewisham’s most nonchalant musician

South East London’s sexiest band, Mummy, are about to release their debut EP. So last week, as he lay horizontal on my bed sporting a boiler suit and a balaclava, I interviewed their frontman Charlie Elliott. Here’s what he had to say about Nigel Farage, success, and modern jazz.

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Some would say that ex-Metros guitarist Charlie Elliott, having already entered the Japanese music charts as a teen, had already made it. But after making his way to New Cross on a fold-up bicycle, others would beg to differ.

After bounding up three flights of stairs, the accomplished musician perched himself on the end of my bed and agreed to talk to me about his new musical venture. ‘Mummy surfaced last year as Donald McKay finally agreed to play bass.’ On McKay’s style Elliott passionately elaborated, ‘he’s fucking wicked.’

It was only last year that Elliott’s last musical venture, Voodoo Binmen, ended. For three years, the Binmen, as they were so often referred to, graced London with an authentic neo-punk sound. But would Mummy label themselves a punk band post rebranding, ‘I would say our energy on stage is more punk than our sound and or our messages. I write about experiences. I document emotion. However, unlike most musicians, I’m not particularly political, therefore not that punk.’

And so naturally we moved onto politics, ‘I voted for someone to put a bullet through his fucking head,’ when asked if he had voted for UKIP’s Nigel Farage in last year’s general election. ‘He’s the devil’s advocate and that’s not a bad thing. Sometimes, you have to have the opposite point of view to highlight the faults in the favourable side of the argument. No issue is ever completely one sided. Politics is about making compromises and getting the best for everyone.’

Before tackling what would be best for Mummy, the musician fidgeted and pondered. ‘I don’t care about success too much. The only thing I care about is making our gigs as enjoyable as possible for our followers. The majority of our fans enjoy our sound but our authentic performance more so as I think for many artists, performance is a thing of the past.’ After being asked to expand on Mummy’s sound, Elliott proudly said, ‘It’s genuine. However, my confidence on stage is not. I have to drink and smoke lots of weed to numb the pain.’

As Elliott proceeded to roll a joint on my desk, we then briefly spoke about the focus of this interview, music. ‘We’re recording our EP at the moment and it’s really fucking good.’ Elliott follows up, ‘I don’t know when we’ll drop it though.’ The ill-informed frontman then unexpectedly mentioned jazz as he crafted a roach. ‘Isn’t Gregory Porter a great jazz vocalist? I’d say he is the best of the last ten years. I’ve seen him three times and he’s undoubtedly and single-handedly saving jazz.’ Following Elliott’s unforeseen comments on Gregory Porter, he said, ‘My Dad’s a saxophonist and we speak about jazz a lot and we have concluded that jazz is not dying out, it’s just changing.’

And as jazz changes, the dynamics of the interview changed. ‘Isn’t this boiler suit I bought in Sheffield yesterday intimidating? It was only ten pounds. Big up to JJ’s of Steel City.’ We argue for a brief moment. I said, ‘Your boiler suit is unimpressive.’ He favoured a welder. ‘Fuck off’, he said and thus back to Hither Green he cycled.

Mummy’s debut EP is set for release this May. But if you can’t wait until then, catch them at the Windmill in Brixton on March 18th.