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Living in a quantifying world

In the article about Lisa Park I have already discussed the collection of data as a trait of the present times and Park’s visualization of this. However Park is not the only artist concerned with this interest; the group exhibition Spending Quality Time With My Quantified Self at Tent brings various artistic perspectives together. But where Park attends the data collection itself, the artists at Tent are preoccupied with the body, the self, within this omnipresent tendency.
The title of the exhibition is well chosen in this respect, it describes the experience of the spectator. The quantified self stands for the increasingly digital identity people have at present. With that being explained the whole title is an invitation to consider this identity, think about it and question it. And that is exactly what the exhibition brings about in the visitors.

This idea is most palpable in the first work one comes across on entering the exhibition. Attention Spa by Anni Puolakka and Jenna Sutela is activated by a performance, surrounded by an audience the participants can sit and contemplate. The artists attempt to find new conditions for ‘togetherness, mutual dependency and networked relationships’.

Anni Puolakka & Jenna Sutela, Attention Spa, 2015. Photograph by Sander van Wettum.
 With her work TLTRNW Amy Suo Wu examines the possible consequences of digitalization to our language. We use abbreviated words and symbols to express ourselves in texts, twitter etc. She relates this to stenography; this writing method differed for each user and could therefore only be understood by that same person. With the help of shorthand Wu translates modern internet slang to facial expressions (close to emoticons). Then she incorporates these expressions in her videos. For example in one of the videos a woman we could interpret to be a newsreader pauses her speech every once in a while to draw her face in a grimace.

Amy Suo Wu, TLTRNW (Too Long to Read and Write), 2015. Photograph by Sander van Wettum.  
Miloš Trakilović looks into the position of the human body in relation to increasing digitalization. His Nothing Really Matters consists of yoga mats and military instruction on how to handle in case of emergency. He seems to assert that when you need saving, a digital connection with someone will never rescue you; you remain dependent on another’s physical presence.

Miloš Trakilović, Nothing Really Matters, 2015. Photograph by Sander van Wettum.
Maki Ueda is concerned with that part of the human being that has not found its way in the digital world; smell. In her contribution to the exhibition she presents five small bottles with components of the smell of sweat. Sweat is produced by movement and exercise, which is evidently the most monitored and quantified of activities.

Maki Ueda, Deconstructing Body Odour (and Reconstructing), 2016. Photograph by author.
Walking around in the exhibition and afterwards the spectator is really set to think. The show evokes questions like ‘What does the generation of all these data mean to (my) identity?’ and ‘What does the future hold for us when data collection is a growing tendency?’. It is important to think about these questions and realize we are in control of at least the part of it that concerns ourselves.

Spending Quality Time With My Quantified Self
11 februari t/m 10 april 2016

Witte de Withstraat 50
3012 BR Rotterdam

Photographs: Courtesy of Tent.

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