One million photos in 24 hours

24 Hrs in photos.
24 Hrs in photos.PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS
World Processor.
Black Shoals: Dark Matter.
Black Shoals: Dark Matter.PHOTO: MARINA BAY SANDS

Big Bang Data exhibition features apps and installations that aim to get people talking about the information explosion

Want to eat all the available hawker food in Singapore? Health concerns and life expectancy aside, it would take a person about 160 years to do so.

Food Loves Fellowship, an app developed by A*Star's Urban Systems Initiative, uses data about people's eating habits to generate interesting findings such as this. People can even use the app to see where in Singapore they can find their favourite local dishes such as ice kacang and char kway teow.

The app is on display at ArtScience Museum's latest exhibition, Big Bang Data, which looks at what data can do for people, and how their relationship with it has evolved over the years.

The exhibition, which is on till Oct 16, comes from Centre de Cultura Contemporania de Barcelona and Fundacion Telefonica in Spain.

It was presented in Spain in 2014, before travelling to cities such as London, Santiago and Buenos Aires.

Besides large-scale installations by artists from countries such as Japan, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, the exhibition straddles multiple disciplines that relate to the development of data and information. It includes interviews with data scientists and historical artefacts such as old maps.


  • WHERE: ArtScience Museum, Marina Bay Sands

    WHEN: Till Oct 16

    ADMISSION: $15 for adults; $12 for seniors, $9 for children, $39 for package of two adults, two children


In one room, the evolution of data storage is shown in physical form - from punch cards in the 1950s to cassette tapes in the 1980s to today's USB devices.

Like the original exhibition in Spain, the Singapore exhibition is curated by Barcelona-based independent curators Jose Luis de Vicente and Olga Subiros.

Mr de Vicente says: "We really thought that it was a story that needed to be told, and it's a story that's not finished, it's still changing. It's a story that touches every single person today."

The Singapore show includes projects developed by local technology companies, data scientists and research institutes, such as A*Star's food app, which the agency says is the start of a plan to create other local data visualisations, such as for transportation and the environment.

Another exhibit is an "e-tattoo" prototype developed by Temasek Polytechnic. It uses an ultra-thin sticker to track health changes in a person.

This local component of the exhibition is presented in tandem with the Government's ambitions for Singapore to become the world's first Smart Nation.

Ms Honor Harger, ArtScience Museum's executive director, says: "It was so important to incorporate Singapore's data story. This topic of the explosiveness of data is resonant in Singapore. We have a history and tradition of embracing new technology in all sectors of society."

The exhibition also explores darker issues such as invasion of privacy. One of the works, 24 Hrs In Photos by Dutch artist Erik Kessels, consists of a huge heap of photos - one million, to be exact. These photos were uploaded to Flickr over a 24-hour period without any privacy safeguards and, hence, legally downloaded and printed by the artist.

Elsewhere in the show, live footage of museumgoers captured on a screen touch on the issue of surveillance.

Ms Subiros says: "Big data is here to stay. So it's a question of what we're going to do with it. We hope to spark conversations about data."


By Erik Kessels

The Dutch artist prints one million photos that were uploaded to the photo-sharing site Flickr over a 24-hour period in 2009. Arranged in piles and heaps, the photos include those from birthday celebrations, pets and weddings.

Through the work, Kessels highlights the sheer amount of photos that floods the Internet daily and gets the audience thinking about how they feel when something personal enters the public domain, which is a possibility when an image is uploaded online without any privacy safeguards.


By Ingo Gunther

Comprising beautiful glowing globes against a dark background, World Processor is the most "Instagrammable" work in the exhibition, according to the show's curators. But its subject is as serious as the work is photogenic. The globes are customised by Gunther, a German journalist and new media artist, to represent information about countries and their relationships along technological, cultural, geographical and political lines, among others. Among the 15 globes on display here - out of more than 1,000 the artist has created since 1989 - one shows the 52 countries with the highest prison populations per capita.


By Lise Autogena and Joshua Portway

This beautiful installation by Danish artist Autogena and British artist Portway looks like a clear night sky or an image of the galaxy projected onto a domed ceiling, but it is actually a representation of what is happening in the world's stock markets, including the Singapore stock exchange.

What looks like stars are actually companies - they glow brighter or dimmer corresponding to the volume of trading activity for each company's stock.

The work, first presented at Tate Britain in 2000, also includes little white creatures that look like they are growing or feeding on the stars, possibly representing how life can sustain itself in an environment made of money.

The title of the work refers to the Black-Scholes formula, which estimates the price of an option, a type of financial instrument.

The formula made Long Term Capital Management, a company owned by two of the mathematicians behind the formula, very rich, before causing them to lose billions of dollars.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 24, 2016, with the headline 'One million photos in 24 hours'. Print Edition | Subscribe