End User @haywardgallery

This free show at the Hayward in their upstairs project space is succinct and to the point. 8 artists present work which confronts our assumptions and assimilations into the Internet which are commonplace today. Sir Tim Berners Lee leads the discussion on how we should consider its reach, and this is highlighted by the work in End User.

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In Kay’s Room, Liz Sterry confronts us with her re-creation of the bedroom of Canadian blogger ‘Kay’. The information and images Kay posts online allow Sterry to assemble a replica of the bedroom, relationships and opinions of a woman she has never met or had any direct contact with. My mind immediately began racing through places like this blog, wondering just how much I disclose, how much I show. I consider myself a savvy web user, I enjoy the different outlets I employ to process what I’m experiencing and absorbing, I know what I write, what I photograph, what I ‘like’. But this confidence made me question even deeper how readily I turn a blind eye to the possibility of manipulation and intrusion, human or electronic, despite my best efforts to limit exposure. And why do I feel the need to publish what I write, why isn’t it enough to keep a private journal?

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Erica Scourti tackles this in her work Life In Ad Words. This film shows a visual journal through the algorithms of Google. When she emailed her daily journal to herself , gmail read them and offered relevant ads. So we see Scourti listing key words daily from these ads, offering a distorted, intimate view of her life. Recorded on her webcam to complete the circle of data, this record makes me assume I have an insight into her thoughts, her online searches and daily movements and emotions. Assumptions manipulated by code and business models of one company.