FutureLab Exhibition, China, 5-13 December

Critical Digital Economies

Design Informatics is delighted to be taking part in this year’s FutureLab representing Edinburgh College of Art (ECA). FutureLab is an international platform dedicated to the research and presentation of innovative teaching practice for future art and design education.

The event will run from December 5th to December 13th, 2020 at West Bund Art Center in Shanghai, China with two sections: exhibition and forum.

Last year ECA took part with the Talbot Rice Gallery’s Trading Zones exhibition and featured alongside 30 other universities and institutions from around the world such as Aalto University, Royal College of Art, University of Florence, New York University Shanghai etc.

This year’s exhibition is titled Critical Digital Economies and will show a collection of works from the Institute for Design Informatics. Each piece asks questions about our place within the ever-changing digital economy. As we move to a society in which data replaces money as the primary representation of value, we find ourselves entangled in the complex data streams of personal, social and environmental information making it increasingly difficult to know who has power, who is designing the rules, and how we should break them.

We will feature work from across the Institute’s research projects representing pieces from Qualified Selves, OxChain, After Money and Creative Informatics. More details on the individual pieces below:

Pip Thornton’s Arcadia screens greet the visitor and mimic an LED stock market ticker that displays the text of Walter Benjamin’s Arcades Project as priced by Google’s algorithms; whilst the word ‘tea’ is £1.88, the word ‘delight’ is £2.06, the word ‘art’ is priced lower than both at £1.70.

Three interactive Smart Seesaws invite the visitor to place money into a series of smart contracts that distribute money according to live global events: If there is an earthquake anywhere in the world within the next minute, your money will pass to an emergency fund; Every time a lifeboat launches in the UK, money will be transferred to the Royal National Lifeboat Institution.

A series of critical design prototypes sit within cases and are accompanied by videos that portray their use. KASH Cups are ceramic coffee cups augmented with RFID tags to give each one a bank account. Credit for coffee can only be added to each cup when two people socialise, turning the cups into social currency. The management of personal data is becoming extremely sensitive, the Co-Creation Prototypes were designed with ‘extreme data users’ who all want data services to make their own data work harder for them. Finally, the Gigbliss Hairdryers present a future for distributed energy management in which individuals can buy and sell energy on their hairdryer to make money, or let the machines to the work, helping with finances and saving electricity.

Edinburgh College of Art is the University of Edinburgh’s home for Art, Design, ESALA (Edinburgh School Architecture & Landscape Architecture), History of Art and the Reid School of Music, as well as research institutes and centres including Design Informatics, Scottish Documentary Institute, OPENspace and Acoustics & Audio Group, and the Talbot Rice Gallery.

For more information on FutureLab visit http://www.ade-futurelab.com 

Exhibition Design by Peak15

West Bund Art Centre, 2555 Long Teng Avenue, Shanghai, China