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National Media Museum opens Life Online exhibition

The ever-changing relationship between society and the internet will be explored through digital art and interactive elements in a unique exhibition on view at the National Media Museum in Bradford on 30 March 2012 – February 2013. The new Life Online temporary exhibition space is part of the world’s first gallery to examine the social, cultural and technological impact of the web.

The inaugural exhibition called [open source] will feature new commissions by established international artists Thomson and Craighead and Ross Phillips as well as work by emerging artists Erin Newell and Phil Bird, selected from a national call for the [open source] commission. Their work was chosen by a panel including Drew Hemment, Director of FutureEverything, the award winning annual festival of art, music, ideas and trends in new media; and Ben Hammersley, Editor at Large of Wired Magazine, broadcaster and Life Online advocate.

The final piece of work is by Networked, an art collective of young people from West Yorkshire, which brings a completely new perspective to the exhibition. The group were brought together by the National Media Museum for the Life Online project.

The exhibition explores two interrelated principles. The first is open source culture which means that we are all able to create, consume, collaborate and share content online. The second is net neutrality. This is the principle that everything on the web should be treated equally regardless of the type of content or who produced it.

As the internet runs out of space the companies that provide access to the internet are suggesting that relaxing net neutrality would enable them to create a tiered system where users could be charged to access and upload certain priority content. This could signify the end of the open source nature of the internet.

Open Source artworks will unite both the virtual and physical visitor through an online presence beyond the gallery space. The piece by Ross Phillips entitled “Read Aloud” will enable visitors to collaborate to create a new version of an existing work whilst the contribution of Erin Newell and Phil Bird, 1 and another, will allow visitors to the gallery itself to build a physical representation of an image conceived by online visitors.

The artwork by Thomson and Craighead entitled Live Portrait of Tim Berners-Lee (An Early Warning System), will demonstrate the threat to net neutrality as it will only remain intact for as long as the internet continues to be open and accessible to all. The work of Networked called System Overload will examine the pros and cons of a neutral internet.

Sarah Crowther, Life Online Content Curator said: “The Life Online temporary exhibition gallery has been created to enable the museum to explore the key issues around the internet and its impact on our lives.

“The first exhibition [open source] celebrates the open source culture of sharing and collaboration online and examines threats to net neutrality which could change the climate of the open internet as we know it. We hope that the exhibition will enable visitors to enjoy the artworks while engaging with the key concepts around our life online.”

The exhibition will also feature interviews with key web commentators including BBC News technology correspondent Rory Cellan-Jones; academic and journalist Aleks Krotoski and Wired magazine’s Ben Hammersley.

Life Online is funded by the regional development agency Yorkshire Forward. Leading environment, brand and interaction agency Start JudgeGill are assisting with the creation of the Life Online Exhibition space.

The opening of the Life Online gallery marks a new partnership between the National Media Museum and the FutureEverything festival in Manchester. The Museum will be exhibiting previous FutureEverything award winner – The EyeWriter – within the permanent foyer area of the Life Online gallery.

The Museum and FutureEverything are pleased to announce a new award run in partnership that will be presented at a gala event during the FutureEverything festival in March 2013.

The National Media Museum is situated right in the heart of Bradford, UNESCO City of Film. It exists to promote an appreciation and understanding of media through eight floors of FREE galleries, an extensive collection and research facility, and three cinemas including the UK’s first IMAX theatre.

National Media Museum, Bradford, BD1 1NQ
Tel: 0844 856 3797
Email: [email protected]

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