Welcome to the Museum of Contemporary Commodities

Imagine as you next walk down the high street or relax in your local park, that everything is known about you – your name, your favourite cafe, your last purchase, your most personal feelings, and even your religious beliefs. Does a warm feeling of belonging grow within you, or does this invasive surveillance freak you out? With retail driving the development of real-time big data processes, how and what we trade, exchange and consume and where we do it, is affecting both the worlds we live in, and those we dream of making – in ways that seem increasingly far beyond our knowledge or control.

Museum of Contemporary Commodities (MoCC) is a digitally networked arts project that collectively re-values our commodity cultures, by treating the things we buy today as the heritage of tomorrow. Presented as a series of lively and challenging digital ‘hacktivist’ activities in physically located and online spaces, MoCC explores the deep links between data, trade, place and values that shape our everyday lives.

MoCC was co-founded by artist-researcher Paula Crutchlow from Blind Ditch and Cultural Geographer Ian Cook from Followthethings.com and University of Exeter. The project is being developed in partnership with Furtherfield and a growing number of artists, academics, technologists and members of the public. You can join us by contributing to our online collection, visiting our shop-gallery, or taking part in an outreach activity. Find out more about our curatorial policy or read on and watch the project videos from bottom to top to find out about how the project developed.

MoCC began with a Thinkering Day at the University of Exeter in 2013 where we gathered a group of artists, activists and academics to investigate ways and means of enrolling people into trade justice debates in lively, enjoyable and digital ways. A residency at Furtherfield Gallery and Commons, London between April-July 2015 resulted in prototype activities being shared with local residents and visitors – data walkshops led by Dr Alison Powell (LSE), workshops with technologist Gareth Foote and MA Narrative Environments students at Central Saint Martins, and the three day MoCC Free Market event in the centre of Finsbury Park.

In May 2016 supported by funding from Arts Council England, University of Exeter Geography Department and Exeter City Council, MoCC opened its online collection alongside a physically located shop-gallery space in central Exeter. For three weeks visitors were invited to upload their commodities to the museum, ask questions of our online commodity consultants, and chat with the museum invigilators and MoCC Guide Mikayla, an internet connected doll about their views on the role of data in production and consumption processes.

A wider programme of activities was curated around the MoCC project in Exeter that expanded on the themes of digital art activism and trade-justice including: data walkshops led by Dr Alison Powell (LSE), a doll hacktivist workshop led by humanities scholar and Bratz doll ‘make-under’ expert Professor Emma Cayley, and artist commissions by Louise Ashcroft and Autonomous Tech Fetish.

The MoCC project continues into 2017. If you are interested in hosting MoCC in your town or venue don’t hesitate to contact us.

Video

Who we are?

People who buy things, borrow things, use things, make things, mend things, keep things, display things, break things, dispose of things, talk about things, worry about things, wonder about things, value things, connect things.

What we do?

Imagine commodities as our future heritage, interpret and group them in categories chosen by our curators according to their values.

Where we do it?

At the moment in Finsbury Park, London and Exeter, Devon, UK… and here on this site, all the time.
Identifying 84%
Connecting 91%
Displaying 85%
Valuing 81%

Our Current Team

Paula Crutchlow
Paula CrutchlowCo-founder and artist researcher
Paula is an independent artist and performance maker who co-authors and directs live events across a variety of forms. Her work with artist collective Blind Ditch creates collaborative and unexpected happenings in everyday spaces; often using participatory approaches and digital medias to engage varied publics as active spectators and citizen artists in the becoming of the event. She first worked with Furtherfield in 2010 on the development of make-shift, a networked performance series devised with Helen Varley Jamieson. Paula was an Associate Lecturer in Theatre at Dartington College of Arts, Devon 2001-10, is currently Artistic Adviser for Adverse Camber, and an ESRC funded PhD Researcher in Critical Human Geography at the University of Exeter.
www.blindditch.org
www.make-shift.net
www.thiscityscentre.net
Dr Ian Cook
Dr Ian CookCo-founder and academic researcher
Ian is an Associate Professor of Geography at the University of Exeter. He is a cultural geographer of trade, and researches ways in which artists, filmmakers, activists and others try to encourage consumers to appreciate the work undertaken (and hardships often experienced) by the people who make the things we buy. With students and interns, he has researched and brought together over 60 examples of this work on the spoof ‘shopping’ website followthethings.com which opened in October 2011. In 2014, he became education lead for Fashion Revolution Day which, on the anniversary of the Rana Plaza factory collapse in April 2013, asks consumers worldwide to ask brands ‘who made my clothes?’ Ian’s involvement in MoCC is his first attempt to move beyond studying others’ finished work to co-creating new ‘follow the thing’ work from the start.
http://www.followthethings.com/
https://geography.exeter.ac.uk/staff/index.php?web_id=Ian_Cook
Gareth Foote
Gareth FooteTechnologist and educator
Gareth is programmer, creative technologist and educator. His practice involves critical reflection on computational culture and experimenting with technology and flows of power. He has created projects and artworks involving critical and introspective software, Artificial Intelligence chatbots, generative poetry and suction mechanisms. His work is pedagogically driven and informed by workshops facilitated for young children, students and teachers in the creative applications of free and open source hardware and software platform
http://garethfoote.co.uk/
Chiara Garbellotto
Chiara GarbellottoResearch student and Furtherfield work placement
Chiara is a postgraduate student of Museum Studies at the University of Westminster. In 2012, she gained a Masters degree in Cultural Anthropology from the University of Bologna, with a dissertation in Museum Anthropology. In 2011, she undertook a four month ethnographic research project in the London based Wellcome Collection focused on verbal and non verbal processes of meaning construction during guided tours. She is now interested in developing her research on situated learning in different contexts, and on participatory events within museums and galleries.
Amelia Suchcicka
Amelia SuchcickaResearch student and Furtherfield work placement
Amelia is a postgraduate student of Art and Visual Culture at the University of Westminster. In 2011, she graduated in Cultural Studies at University of Warsaw. She has also studied History of Art at Universidad Complutense de Madrird. At the moment she is interested in how non-western cultures are represented in cultural institutions in Europe.
Alison Powell
Alison PowellData activist and researcher
Alison is an Assistant Professor in Media and Communications at the London School of Economics, researching open source culture, information policy, and civic communications and data activism. She looks at how the actions of hackers, activists and advocates influence the structure, function, and policy environment of our communications environment, and how our ability to exercise our rights to communicate changes in a media space transformed by an orientation towards data and sensor technology.
http://www.alisonpowell.ca/
Joe Hancock
Joe HancockAssociate Producer, Exeter
Joe is a Director, Performer and Project Manager, working in theatre and community arts. He has worked with The European Theatre Company, Quantum Theatre for Science, Manchester University, The University of Mikkeli in Finland, The New Zealand Ballet, The New Zealand International Arts Festival, Les Arts Sauts and Wildworks. Most recently, with Burn the Curtain, he has developed ‘Company of Wolves’ with the Forestry Commission, and ‘Desperately Seeking Shakespeare’ with The Barbican Centre and Museum of London.
www.burnthecurtain.co.uk/
Carlos Armendariz
Carlos ArmendarizWorkshop facilitator and Furtherfield Artist in Residence
Carlos is a visual artist, computer scientist and Media Art & Technology PhD candidate at Queen Mary University London. His research with the cognitive science department looks into ideas from affect theory and phenomenology in an attempt to get closer to a truly embodied perspective on cognition. He studied photographic arts and has worked with photography, video and installation, in the gallery and the street. Before his artistic deviation he worked as external researcher with the algorithms and bioinformatics team at the International Computer Science Institute in Berkeley (California). www.carlosarmendariz.com
Jennifer Hart
Jennifer HartCommodity Consultant
Graduating from the University of Exeter in 2014, Jenny is one of the most recent graduates working as a Commodity Consultant for MoCC. Her love and interest for production ethics and tracing the social lives of commodities was fueled by her studying the module ‘Geographies of Material Culture’ with Dr Ian Cook. Her creative yet academic flare led to great success in the module, and her consequently undertaking a research internship at followthethings.com, where she published her Pacemaker project and presented it at Brown University’s international BIARI conference in 2014. Jenny has just finished her placement working as an Economic Development Officer, and is currently planning a trip to travel around Europe.
Kerrie Flowers
Kerrie FlowersMuseum Invigilator Exeter shop-gallery
Kerrie is a self employed performer, visual artist, maker, director, trainer, community practitioner and project manager based in the South West since 1998. She has a strong background in facilitating arts projects in residential care settings, social work support services, mental health services, libraries, museums, heritage sites, and adult education services. Kerrie works extensively with community groups, arts venues and schools to create fresh, innovative and exciting work that can motivate, inspire and and engage and create new opportunities for participants.
Alice Goodbrook
Alice GoodbrookCommodity Consultant
Alice read BA Geography at the University of Exeter, graduating in 2011 before undertaking a research internship at followthethings.com. With a passion for renewables and working out how we can live within the earth limits, she went on to study a Masters in Leadership for Sustainable Development at Forum for the Future. Studying ‘Geographies of Material Culture’ with Dr Ian Cook highlighted the social webs tied up in the things around us. It made her realise the huge social and environment complexity of the sustainability challenge ahead. She currently work for Innovate UK who help to fund early stage energy technology.
Becky Rich
Becky RichMuseum Invigilator Exeter shop-gallery
Becky is an actress and drama practitioner living in sleepy and sunny Starcross. She works predominantly with young people, particularly those who are more vulnerable as well as runs drama clubs for adults with learning disabilities. Becky is currently in two web series as well as two local feature films and a touring performance of Othello. She loves animals and Disney.

When Disney email you a 15% discount for your Birthday…what can you do, apart from buy a mug of the character that makes you cry the most in all of the Disney films? (and who loves the environment as much as you!) This charming mug of Wall.E came paired with Eve – his robot girlfriend of course. Becky uses Wall.E for drinks from green tea to hot chocolate. And yes, she uses it every day and grins to herself whilst doing it.

Charlie Coldfield
Charlie ColdfieldMuseum Invigilator Exeter shop-gallery
Charlie Coldfield is an actor who does a bit of writing, directing and producing on the side. Originally from the South East, he now lives in Devon with his family and cat Roddas. As well as working freelance in theatre and film he is a creative partner with production company Wandering Tiger and an almost original member of Nuts and Volts Theatre. This is his first job in a museum.
Benjamin J Borley
Benjamin J BorleyPhotographer and filmmaker
Benjamin’s work has been shown at various venues around the world including the Photographer’s Gallery, London and the Museum of Modern Art, New York as well as appearing in the online collections of Vogue Italia and the Walker Arts Centre, Texas.
www.benjaminjborley.tumblr.com
Emmanuel Spinelli
Emmanuel SpinelliSound Designer
Emmanuel Spinelli is a sound artist and music lecturer. He has been involved in electro-acoustic composition, live electronics and free improvisation since 1998. His work has been presented around Europe, the US and Canada, and Footsteps in the Wind, a soundscape study of Krakow and Auschwitz, won the C.C.P. and the George Blunden travel awards. Spinelli is currently completing a PhD in Sonic Arts at Goldsmiths. Through the years, he has developed an interest in issues related to soundscape transformation, psycho-geographies, manipulations of historical data, sonic remains and memory, particularly in relation to post-war Europe. His research revolves around the notion of acoustic phenotypology, that is to say the perception of individual identities through sound. All his work, at one level or another, explores human presence and history, through the cognition of the disembodied voice and the sonic environment.
http://emalorienweb.webs.com/
Daisy Livingston
Daisy Livingston
Daisy graduated from the University Exeter in 2011. Studying ‘Geographies of Material Culture’ with Dr Ian Cook sparked her interest in the hidden lives of commodities, and she undertook a research internship at followthethings.com. Since graduating Daisy has continued to be involved, volunteering on Fashion Revolution day and most recently working as a Commodity Consultant for MoCC. Having worked in market research and the charity sector, Daisy is currently training to be a primary school teacher with Teach First. She hopes to bring her curiosity about commodities into the class room in September.
Gabrielle King
Gabrielle KingCommodity Consultant
Gabrielle has just completed her degree in Geography at the University of Exeter. Her love of (and potential obsession with) global health research was partly inspired by Ian Cook’s Material Culture module which led to her part in MoCC. She has also not been able to buy or sell something without looking where it came from since (apologies M&S customers!!).
Elizabeth Hobson
Elizabeth HobsonCommodity Consultant
Graduating from the University of Exeter in 2016 in BA Geography, Lizzie is one of the most recent graduates working as a Commodity Consultant for MoCC. Her love for all things ‘thing’ related, their lively stories, and their ethics was set in motion after reading Leanne Shapton’s Important Artifacts and Personal Property from the Collection of Lenore Doolan and Harold Morris, Including Books, Street Fashion, and Jewelry, as part of studying Associate Professor Ian Cook’s ‘Geographies of Material Culture’ module. Lizzie is currently planning trips to Singapore and Australia before hoping to continue her studies towards a PhD.
Alison Ballard
Alison BallardProducer, Finsbury Park
Alison Ballard is a cross-disciplinary artist whose work examines notions of power and presentations of truth through a range of films, installations and site-specific performances. She specifically seeks to produce works that lie between disciplines in order to research ways in which different mediums share ideology, presentation and audience experience.
www.alisonballard.com/
Olga MassanetWeb developer and designer
Olga carries out practical and theoretical research in the field of media arts. She works as a co-editor with Furtherfield.org while she pursues a practice-based PhD at Goldsmiths. Her research project looks into assemblages of sunlight, human bodies and machines. She is particularly interested on subtle modes of communication across bodies of radically different nature. She looks at the ways in which electronic circuits, computational systems, endocrine processes and neurological happenings intermingle. The tools she develops are speculations about the undercurrents of body communication.
www.olgapanades.com
Ruth CatlowFurtherfield co-founder and artistic director
Ruth works and plays with emancipatory network cultures, practices and poetics in arts, technology and social change. She involves herself with art experiments, research and organisational developments, to engender shared visions and new infrastructures. She is Co-Founder and Artistic Director of the Furtherfield online community for arts, technology and social change since 1997, now also a public gallery in the heart of Finsbury Park, North London.
www.furtherfield.org
www.playyourplace.co.uk