Science Gallery explores how we can track, measure and even sell our data footprint

12 Feb 2015

Stephen Cartwright puts the finishing touches to his artwork 'Comparative Meshes' as part of 'Lifelogging: Do You Count?' at Science Gallery, Trinity College Dublin

If you could measure everything, would you? That’s just one of the questions raised by Science Gallery Dublin’s latest exhibition, ‘Lifelogging: Do You Count?’

‘Lifelogging’ will look at emerging technologies, opinions and research questions that arise as the notion of the quantified self moves from the fringes of early adoption to the mainstream.

An active lab itself, the exhibition presents a mix of installations and real research projects with weekly residencies requesting input from the general public.

Some of the highlights include a photo gallery of every single object artist Alberto Frigo has held in his right hand since 24 September 2003, and the opportunity to purchase comprehensive personal data from one of the exhibitors.

Over the coming weeks, the Science Gallery will showcase portraits of lifeloggers, such as rugby player Jamie Heaslip, an immersive games system navigating artist Alan Kwan’s memories, a headstone that displays your social media stats at your time of death, and a handwritten medical notebook charting the vitals of an Irish man over the last 11 years.

There will also be research experiments from the Insight Centre for Data Analytics, and contributions from Intel and start-ups such as Shimmer and AYLIEN.

The ‘wonderful and threatening’ world of data

The average smartphone is packed with sensors capable of tracking all sorts of personal information, to the point that there’s even an app that can measure if friends are stressing you out or keeping you happy, and then take it upon itself to keep in touch with your more positive influences.

Noting the importance of this exhibition in the context of having this kind of technology now readily available, Linda Doyle, director of national telecommunications research centre CTVR, said, “We are at a juncture in society where we need to think about our data. I’m interested in what it means for that data to be measured and stored and analysed and how that data might be used in ways that are both wonderful and threatening.”

‘Lifelogging: Do You Count?’ is curated by Doyle, information designer Nicholas Felton (who influenced the design of a life-logging service used by more than 1bn people: Facebook’s timeline) and Science Gallery Dublin director Lynn Scarff. The exhibition opens to the public on Friday, 13 February, and runs until 17 April 2015.

Elaine Burke is the host of For Tech’s Sake, a co-production from Silicon Republic and The HeadStuff Podcast Network. She was previously the editor of Silicon Republic.