Imagine, for a moment, you’re a young adult with a smart phone, feeling alone in the world, you might be going through a particularly negative part of your life, or you’re simply feeling disconnected, that nobody understands you. Why would they, when you are unique and everyone else is the same? You use social media applications like Facebook and Instagram regularly, seeking likes and attention, when in reality all you receive is hollow hearts and shallow comments. The daily barrage of neutral abuse is inescapable, both on and offline. One day you’re skimming through your feed, refreshing your phone, waiting for the next ‘like’ to appear on your latest profile picture, when you see an advert, algorithmically selected just for you. It’s for Shouldr, the focus of this weeks online exhibition, an application that facilitates your wants and needs. Functioning like Facebook Messenger, you log on, type in your wants, your needs, your desires, and you’re paired with a real life ‘caregiver’ who will respond to those yearnings. In a world where AI’s are slowly becoming indiscernible from human beings, peer to peer contact has never been more important. Or is this app simply filling a void, taking a bite out of the booming mobile application marketplace before the AI’s of the future are able to serve those wants through machine learning, akin to Scarlett Johansson’s portrayal of an artificial intelligence in Her or Alicia Vikander’s robotically human performance in Ex Machina.
Stepping out of the fabricated world where this revolutionary new app actually exists, the idea of an application that actually values human interaction is quite unique. When we as a race are continually pushing forwards, always wanting another technological innovation, striving for tomorrows smartphone today, at what point do we choose to stop being revolutionary and be content with what we have? To quote Matthew Broderick in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, "Life moves pretty fast. If you don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it."
Curated by Bob Bicknell-Knight featuring artwork from Ralph Pritchard