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.