Instructions For Humans
The exhibition considers the relationship between humans and machines, and the systems that control them. It brings together three UK and international artists Pete Ashton (Birmingham, UK), Kyle McDonald (Los Angeles, USA), Nye Thompson (London, UK).
The exhibition takes its title from Pete Ashton’s new series of works, Instructions for Humans (Black Box) and Instructions for Humans (Instruction Station). Informed by machine learning programmes, the Black Box comprises software, sculpture and performance and periodically issues instructions which visitors are invited to follow. Instruction Station is a workspace where Pete will be resident throughout the exhibition, developing new work daily.
Kyle McDonald’s work Exhausting a Crowd uses footage shot in Birmingham and invites the public to contribute captions of passers’ by via online participation. The work makes an ironic commentary on issues around pervasive surveillance, raising questions around who controls the camera and how we are unintentionally perceived in public spaces.
The Cass alumna Nye Thompson’s Backdoored.io project is an online artwork that searches the Internet for found images from unsecured surveillance cameras around the world. The work explores contemporary anxieties and online vulnerability, as well as the evolving machine gaze. The title ‘backdoor’ is slang for a defect of a computer system or device that allows surreptitious access to data.
For this show, Thompson has created an installation which offers a unique view of a world under surveillance, exploring ideas of voyeurism and complicity. In an age where government response to threat is to harvest more and more personal data from its citizens, this installation asks what kinds of meanings or truths are presented through this act of dis-located watching. Thompson's 2016 Backdoored.io exhibition at The Cass sparked global debate about privacy after featuring on the BBC and Channel 4.