In 'Social Study', Till’s response to the Window site within The University of Auckland is premised upon the interception of personal smart phone content, data and communications from student participants through simulated research. While studying for exams, a group of students from The University of Auckland entered a contractual agreement with the artist whereby each use a smartphone loaded with software that silently monitors and remotely records every text message, voice and video call, photograph, email and facebook message as well as browser history and GPS / location services data transmitted from the device during a set period.
This process captures distinct elements of student life—studying, flatting, socialising and otherwise—demonstrating users’ active integration of these devices into their daily lives. This technologically engaged living renders the smartphones a personal and social artefact with a documentary function. The use of intercepted data for subsequent presentation at Window materializes these informatic flows indexed by the devices.
'Social Study' reflects the public space within The University of Auckland General Library foyer where Window is situated: a field of incoming and outgoing information permeating bodies and devices. Amongst these networks of connections, Till presents interactive smartphones holding captured content generated by students. Within the interstitial space of the foyer, the use of display standardised within mobile phone stores establishes a familiar browsing encounter. Inside the actual Window space, Till has produced a series of smart phone sculptures, while the surface of the vitrine is mediated by floating translucent prints adding another layer of interfaces.
Users think with their devices, combining activity-based coordinations with social and emotional interactions. This very multitasking—layering and compressing time and space—is a virtue of the ease and mobility by which smartphones become socially integrated as we endeavour to stay in touch. Till’s work images these invisible transmissions and receptions facilitated by smartphones and their intimate presence within contemporary life.
Francis Till (1989) is an Auckland based artist and graduated with a BFA(Hons) from Elam School of Fine Arts in 2012. Recent exhibitions include Gloria Knight at Auckland Art Fair 2013, Stay in touch at Gloria Knight (2013), Hey man>hey hows it going with Oscar Enberg at RM (2012).