At a time when the arts are being asked to prove their worth, activism and campaigning aren't always top of the list – what's the power of creativity to challenge these big issues?
The arts are challenging big issues all the time and using digital platforms to spread their message and gain public attention. The WomenofKWMC blog is a good local example of this. It was a small photographic series put together in a little room over three hours. The photos expressed something that caught the attention of over 80,000 people.
The people who shared that Tumblr online may not think of themselves as activists but when thousands of people are blogging and sharing the same photos with the same outrage, doesn't that make them activists? A network of people who want something to change has been created. By sharing those photos, people are making a social comment, expressing a dislike of the status quo and challenging the norm.
People who may have never thought of themselves as activists before are becoming them for the first time; they are sharing their opinions online and championing causes. Art and technology are aiding that activism.
We wanted to collect data but we didn't want to present local residents with loads of paper and boxes to tick. That's incredibly boring and most people would just throw the forms away. So we made a living room made out of cardboard that would "come to life" when interacted with.
Each piece of furniture was a different survey question that had to be answered in different ways. For example, I made the "Rate your hate" cardboard window with artist Matthew Olden and cardboard artist Joseph Ballard. I went around Knowle West (my home) and photographed the worst bits of the area that residents had already highlighted; these photographs then made up the windows. Matthew showed us how to attach subtle electronics to the windows so that when hit with a cardboard brick, they would emit some audio of glass smashing.
The project was really about starting a conversation among residents to find out what they really wanted and whether they wanted something enough to make an action towards gaining it. It was a success in my eyes because it created genuine conversation.