Instructions for Humans - Day 1

Pic by Fiona

First day. Quite tired after launch last night but had a strong desire to start.

Visited by Tess Osbourne, PhD researcher at Birmingham University who I met when we needed volunteers to walk around the suburbs wearing a body camera and biometric sensors. She came ostensibly to give me the gigabytes of body camera footage to play with (after clearing it with the ethics guidelines of course) and as a break from writing her PhD, but also to continue some of the chats we'd had last year. I was fairly unfocussed, due to tiredness, but we covered a lot of stuff including:

  • Happn, one of those terrible-idea dating apps that uses location data that might be fun to play around with.
  • Clare Booker's Collage Airport projects, specifically Street View Diaries which I found interesting because they take place in corporate spaces, using a technology or medium that was perfected on the public street.
  • Google local guides like Martin Hamilton who we stumbled upon while seeing if the Bullring shopping centre was on Street View and noticed his face wasn't blurred. This sparked a conversation about how and why we give labour to surveillance corporations and prompting the idea for an artwork about these people popping up in the products of their labour. (Working title: The Stick Men Of Streetview.)
  • Unfit Bits, a project addressing the interest health insurance companies and employers have in people submitting their bio-data, prompted by discussions about the inaccuracy of these devices and how easy is to trick them.

Three men visited in a group, one of whom had seen the website. This was my first interaction with "the public" and it was mostly a lecture / explanation rather than a conversation, to be honest. But that's fine. It's going to be fascinating to see how my interactions with people change over time. At the moment I'm a little defensive and worried it doesn't make sense, which is understandable. Over time I'll figure out what works and fix what doesn't and be able to relax and let the work speak for itself, or fold myself into the work more, if that makes sense. I shall attempt to record the transition.

Antonio (who's been a fellow traveller in the "developing an art practice / career" journey over the last decade) brought in Jan Nikolai Nelles who's work The Other Nefertiti features in his exhibition No Copyright Infringement Intended in Birmingham this fortnight. We had a good general chat about things and it was lovely to meet him. Notably I started to refer to the four screens as the "cornerstones" of the work, which was interesting as there being four was a technological limit imposed by only being able to get free VNC cloud access for the four Raspberry Pis powering them (the fifth is for remote access to The Black Box) . So now there are four cornerstones to the work. Nice. A priority is codifying those.

Karen Cameron (not Karen Newman, director of BOM) came in with her mum. Karen's very keen to get involved and will be taking on the archive of articles I've been collecting and trying to make sense of them. She's going to put together a bunch of questions and then interview me or something. Essentially acting as an outside perspective. I'm quite looking forward to that.

The Black Box continues to churn out instructions. I'm getting more comfortable with them not reading like proper "instructions" because by labelling them as such it's up to the reader to figure out what the instruction might be. A good one came through today: "You can must have improve primates such tribute to the City Shaver." I now want to know who the City Shaver is and what their role is. How does one shave a city?

Yesterday I joked that maybe this should be a performance piece of a man getting frustrated with technology ending in him destroying it with a giant axe, and someone said that would be perfectly on topic. I'm spending a lot of time clearing paper jams in The Black Box because it's mounted at 45 degrees and doesn't really like it. Me standing on a step ladder leaning into a 2m monolith in my red boiler suit does feel like a performance piece, especially last night when it always drew a crowd. Something to put a pin in for November maybe.

The Golden Apple inventory:

  1. Voucher for a free bottle of cola
  2. Thailand wooden elephant on a chain
  3. Feather
  4. Plastic hinge
  5. Hairclip
  6. Solid metal cylinder

Instructions for tomorrow:

  • Make proper videos for The Four Cornerstones, which are now a thing and not just a space-filler for the launch.
  • Get the website(s) up to date now the show exists and isn't theoretical anymore.
  • Think of a way to make The Black Box more self-explanatory. I was wondering where the description was and then I realised I never wrote one. I quite like that it doesn't have one, but I do wind up explaining it anyway...

Some photos from yesterday evening's launch.

Thanks to everyone who came!

Pic by Louise

Pic by Louise

Pic by Nye

Pic by Nick Hynan

Pic by Nat Osbourne