Friday

Correspondence exhibition - Brighton Science Festival, review by Annabelle Spender

The science festival in Brighton has begun! The first event that I attended this year was a free exhibition and next to Preston Park. On reading the adult programme, Correspondence seemed like a perfect start to it due to my interest in art, marketing and technology.

Correspondence exhibition - Brighton Science Festival




SPYBOT WARNING

Initially, I wasn't thrilled - when I walked into the office block where I met a grumpy door man who wasn't very helpful, but finally after making my way to the 6th floor the view was stunning as you walk out of the tiny lift and look over at Preston Park.

When you first walk into the exhibition itself, there is a warning of sorts - "Beware of Spybot!" That should have been the first clue that this was going to be a very different type of exhibition and that images of you could be beamed on to the internet as part of one of the art installations.

Correspondence exhibition - Brighton Science Festival


MUSIC CASSETTE IMAGE

There are only a small number of displays so if you had only gone to look around and were feeling anti-social then this would have been the wrong event to go to. With little information explaining the projects, it can seem like a very disjointed exhibition, which you could whip around in 10 minutes flat - in fact the group of people I arrived with were gone after that. 

There was an interactive music section, various videos, images with more displayed around the room but the exhibition really came to life when you talked to the artists. These artists are passionate about their work and talking to them made all the pieces make sense, as well as the theme as a whole.


Correspondence exhibition - Brighton Science Festival

THICK CREAM IMAGE

The first artist that I spoke to was Alexander Glass while he photographed his piece. His piece I felt mirrored the event so well - at first his piece looked like a martini glass full of cream next to a pot of strawberries with a stray paint can on the side. It is only when you stop for a second and realise that it is paint filled within the glass, that you realise the depth of this piece. Alexander's piece was all about the methods that are used in advertising to best convey products; using paint instead of cream highlighting how those yummy food photos or adverts aren't as appetising in real life. The video advert he created as part of his piece looped behind as he went through all the mind boggling things used to represent different things in adverts - such as ice cream for mash potato and mash potato for ice cream!

It is only then that it forces you to think about how they convey the amazing food in adverts and films, showing you something that looks incredible to eat and yet cuts away to a different angle or shot of someone eating it.

Correspondence exhibition - Brighton Science Festival

JACOB FLAG IMAGE

The next artist I spoke to was Jacob V Joyce concerning the fabric based art piece that dominated the room with its vibrate colour and size. The statement on it only becomes more moving when you hear the story behind the piece and what it conveys. For Jacob, it was clear that whenever artists create a piece about current affairs, they are seen as either opinion pieces or the artists themselves are seen as authoritative about the topic. He wanted to create a piece based on the recent race fuelled riots in America without this happening. On knowing this, you can view this fabric art piece as it really is - a statement about the struggles faced by artists and how easy it is to look at just the surface of art.

Now having talked to two artists, the theme of Correspondence was becoming so clear - this thought provoking exhibition really was about making you re-think how you perceive the communication in the world.


SPYBOT FILE IMAGE

Having seen the difference talking to the artists made, I tracked down the mind behind the spybot - only to find out that originally it was planned to be a goat looking spybot rather than the final file on wheels appearance, and that it was called Susan. The whole exhibition was recreated on Second Life, a game where you can build or live how you like. but the team wanted to make the whole event more engaging and interactive. With the high level of media interest in drones used for spying, or the fact that you are seen by over 300 CCTV's a day on average, Susan was born. This camera on wheels was beaming everything it saw live onto a screen in the Second Life Exhibition, allowing people from all over the globe to see it all from a different perspective.

The mastermind behind Susan was Nick Smith, but unlike everyone else he had a second project.

Leading on from how our images could be being beamed across the world very easily - his mapping project was about how much information we put on the web and whether there was any demographic divides to how we acted on the web. Based off all those in the exhibit, he tried to see just how much information he could gain off the web about each person - this quantified and out into a special program created a map of the exhibition with a difference. Depending on how much information he could find on each person, depended on how much floor space they took on this new map. His results were clear - all the white British exhibitors shared a lot more information readily available than all the other demographics. With an understanding of SEO, our conversation about this quickly got very nerdy but it went along the lines of "Facebook and Google know you better than your friends".

Correspondence exhibition - Brighton Science Festival

KATIE BY PHOTOS

The final artist I had the privilege of talking to was the lady behind the event, Katie McCallum. Giant photos of walls with blocks of different colours hung from the wall and on my first time round had seemed the most disjointed from the theme. What did these photos, while interesting, have to do with communication or correspondence. Oh what a fool - this was again about the story behind it all! With graffiti occurring on so many plain walls these days, often they are painted over. In all of the instances though captured by Katie, they were not painted over with the same colour but a differing shade. These blocks of paint are a statement rather than hiding what others will consider art - this is telling artists loud and clear "I'm in charge here and this is my mark of authority". Again here is a piece that once you understand the meaning or story, the depth of it overwhelms the senses and makes you think for days.

Correspondence exhibition - Brighton Science Festival

CAGE IMAGE

It was at this point that Katie also made it clear what the biggest piece, an almost metal cage with a very long length of paper weaving throughout it, was the cornerstone of the whole thing. The paper that weaved in and out of the metal had e-mails, images and all the correspondence about the exhibit. It showed how it came about to planning down to the last minute - it was everything communicated electronically to everyone involved.

There were still many pieces left without stories but with 2 hours gone and most artists recovering from a night of celebrating the opening of the show, I left the show knowing that I now will think about the world a little differently. If this band of artists creates another collaborative experiment, I will definitely go with more time (and not the night after the opening!) but I would suggest it to anyone who wants to open their mind to the inner workings of these highly creative minds. Do not expect fine art but do prepare to come out looking at the world a little differently.

CORRESPONDENCE -  5 – 9 February, 10:00am – 6:00pm

With thanks to Annabelle Spender for her review and photos - follow @lillyringletLillyRinglet blog

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