Our decode exhibition is an invitation to re-examine our relationship with data technologies through the work of four extraordinary Black artists and activists, who take on the human and machine generated technologies, subverting them into more supportive and inclusive experiences to inform, delight and galvanise communities.

Our co-curator Charlene Prempeh was a clear first choice as collaborator on this project, having set up her creative agency, A Vibe Called Tech with the intent to explore and mitigate the impact that technology has on Black people. Her clients to date have included Gucci, Frieze, Adidas, Barbican, Tate and the V&A among many others. You get the idea. Serious. We’re in awe of her prolific output and very happy she found the time to contribute to this exhibition.

A dreamlike soundscape might be the first thing that you encounter on entering the gallery. This is part of artist Danielle Brathwaite-Shirley’s interactive work, We are here because of those who are not. Using games design technology, the artist invites us to enter her world, a space where Black trans people are centred and the Black trans ancestors are sought and cherished. The journey through her imaginary utopia will differ in experience depending on the identity we each bring to it.

Artist and game maker A M Darke’s work, fairlyintelligent.tech has been described as the world’s worst algorithm posing as the world’s best algorithm, provides an onscreen journey where you’ll be subjected to a series of questions ostensibly posed by a charismatic artificial intelligence, who will tell you exactly what they think of you should you complete the experience.

This work was originally commissioned by BOM board member Antonio Roberts for the Open Data Institute as part of their Data as Culture exhibition and has been amusing/irritating and informing users ever since.

Transmedia artist Stephanie Dinkins provides us with #WhenWordsFail a virtual cosmos as a repository for nonverbal communications. You can upload your own video selfie, leaving a digital trace of yourself floating through the vastness of her imaginary universe in a capsule alongside numerous disembodied others, all attempting to communicate but ultimately alone.

Her wider practice targets the uncontested bias and racism that is deliberately or carelessly embedded within algorithmic systems, big data and artificial intelligence.

Media artist Mimi Ọnụọha considers data collection to be a relationship, but a relationship that can be difficult to see. Much of her creative practice brings into clear vision the power dynamics entrenched within familiar forms of data collection.

We are showing the third video in her Us, Aggregated series which uses Google’s reverse-image search algorithms. A series of photographs from the artist’s family history is shown alongside images provided by Google that have been algorithmically categorised as similar. At first glance the similarity between the two groups suggests an expanded community but one that we know to be false, the result of machine manufacture, and yet still a kind of us. As with much of her work the artist asks us to consider what has been added and what has been excluded.

In addition to the exhibits in the gallery, visitors have the opportunity to interact with our child-friendly colourful data gathering mural on the mezzanine floor. Thanks to the information left by visitors to date, we can confidently say that gallery visitors are mostly right handed chip eating, tired funsters who won’t be playing by the rules when it comes to applying coloured stickers to the designated areas.

Come and have a go yourself…


Decode…from data with love, is in our gallery until December 18

Open Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 4pm.