Prior my weekend spending in London, with the curiosity about Edward Snowden after watching Citizen Four, I paid a visit to V&A Museum for their exhibition questioning the ownership and right of our of data and privacy.
The location of exhibition is as secret as the exhibition itself. My friend and I had to take an elevator to the 3rd floor, and look for room 76.
When we walked passed a corridor of designed objects (sorry I did not really pay attention to the objects cos I was too eager to figure out the location of Ways To Be Secret :P), there was a plushie doll in a blue gallery that drew my attention. It was an IKEA doll that resembles the wolf in Red Riding Hood. It drew my attention because it is
only a strong political representation within the Hong Kong community of our Chief Executive in Hong Kong, and I was surprised the connection of it with V&A and Britain. Then I realised this is a blue room of “Rapid Response Collecting”.
I really like the idea of having a Rapid Response Collecting gallery in V&A, or even any other museums where it collects objects in direct response to important moments in the recent history of design and manufacturing.
The Museum collected the objects in this gallery in direct response to important moments in the recent history of design and manufacturing.
Many of the objects have been newsworthy either because they advance what design can do, or because they reveal truths about how we live today and how we might live tomorrow.
Design is a mirror to our society: what we buy, how things are made, how we solve problems. The things in this gallery are evidence of social, political, technological and economic changes, and they show that objects mean more than their sometimes modest material value.
The gallery will change frequently as new objects are collected. The dates prominently displayed in each case tell you exactly when we acquired each object.
I am absolutely driven by the fact that the gallery will change frequently and the wide variety of notions for objects to be collected. After more and more readings and museum guided tours from my Museum API class with Musée des Arts Décoratjfs, I am amazed by the fact how different designs (even from different spectrums) would affect the designs of different times. For instance, forks are invented to allow people dressed in ruffs to eat in a clean and elegant way (people in times before were just using knives and 3 fingers from their right hands to eat!), or that the design of chairs changed according to the fashion at times for different comfortable measurements.
The wide variety of displayed objects ranged from political to retail to social surveillance and technological development in Rapid Response Collecting was a good introduction into another gallery for Ways To Be Secret. The Drone Aviary Film by Superflux definitely triggered my concern on public surveillance with face recognition and motion sensor with a drone flying around London with flashing LED advertisement spinning.
This actually gave a nice introduction to Ways To Be Secret with an accumulation knowledge of the latest technology.
So how would I conclude Ways To Be Secret?
1) Edward Snowden! I never thought I would feel so close with Ed Snowden. Now I am in design and technology, all I am doing is about programming (without using the cool terminal like a guru). But looking at his carefully dissected and scratched hard disk and laptop actually gave me a sense that I am so close with technology. Don’t ask me why, I just have this feeling to dive into the emotional pool to try to be a geek and understand what’s going on.
2) USB Condom! Wow I never know my USB is leaking my data whenever I am trying to charge it to any of my device! Mind blowing! Wow!
3) Samsung smartphone is a great device to hack or to be hacked. Ways To Be Secret has shown 2 modified and encrypted Samsung phones for limited users. So whhhhhat!? What am I doing with my iPhone? It does nothing.
4) V&A is awesome! Everything is awesome! I really admire V&A’s courage to put on an exhibition that challenges existing government (or US particularly) surveillance system.
It is an out of the box kind of exhibition (I’m trying to avoid the cliché avant-garde, hit me with any word you think is appropriate) as it raise public awareness on the not-so-private privacy we owe, even when it is our own single byte of data. I admire its bravery but also wondering the intention of Ways To Be Secret, with more education on technology, does the curator want to lead to another public digital riot?
PS Not a lot of images from the exhibition is being shown here as I insisted to keep them as a secret unless you check it out on yourself!
Update on Apr30 ’15
There is an article from the Atlantic, stating AT&T offers an option for its customer to pay for their privacy data not to be sold to browse ads. But wait – why is that an option? Shouldn’t they pay for our data instead? We, the customers, paid for the service; and AT&T is selling our information, asking us to pay extra for what belongs to us? Unbelievable.
From the article, most of the customers chose not to pay extra for their data to be leaked too. It actually leads me thinking if I would do the same or not, OK… actually I may just prefer saving some bucks… Ha… Since I am not a celebrity nor hacker, I don’t have to worry too much about my own data. But wait a second, wouldn’t that encourage the growth of technology tycoon if every “normal” person thinks like me, and actually there’s 7 billion similarly thinking people like me! Argh! This is so frustrating!