New light installation near Old Street roundabout opens bright window to a dark future

The First Art Newspaper on the Net    Established in 1996 Monday, June 17, 2024

New light installation near Old Street roundabout opens bright window to a dark future

LONDON.- At first glance, it looks like any ordinary high street shop but the signs in the window at 103 Murray Grove aren’t offering manicures or replacement phone screens. From interplanetary money transfer services to fast food made from insect protein, these garishly colourful signs flash and blink a hi-tech vision of the future rendered in low-tech LEDs.

London-based visual artist and designer Simon the Last has taken over the entire front window of a retail unit near London’s Silicon Roundabout with his new work WE WILL STILL BE HERE / WILL WE STILL BE HERE. The eye-catching installation features 10 illuminated LED shop window signs arranged in a single shopfront and imagines which products and services might be available “while-u-wait” 50 years from now. It presents today’s cutting edge technology as cheap, pedestrian high street fare. What once attracted billion-dollar market capitalisations is now seen as run-of-the-mill retail.

The inspiration for the piece came from the neighbourhoods of south and east London where Simon has lived and worked for the past 12 years. Simon comments, The chaotic aesthetic of local high streets is always anchored by these reassuringly identical LED signs. Some neighbourhoods are plagued by their ubiquitous Costas or Prets, but these unapologetically colourful billboards proudly announce the presence of an independent community and spirit.

WE WILL STILL BE HERE / WILL WE STILL BE HERE features over 3,600 individually installed LEDs and questions our relationship with emerging technologies, our worship of tech oligarchs, and the narrow visions of the future they propose. It asks whether these self-appointed architects of the future will save us from environmental and economic disaster, or if their innovations and disruptions only accelerate our demise - if they move us forward, or keep us exactly where we are.

Simon continues to say, With WE WILL STILL BE HERE / WILL WE STILL BE HERE, I want to present today’s cutting edge/near-future technology as a cheap, pedestrian, high street offering. From the outside the spectacle is alluring, but behind it is an empty space - a colourful promise with nothing to back it up. I want to present a future where shiny things that once attracted billion-dollar market capitalisations are now run-of-the-mill retail, and nothing has changed for the better.

You can visit the installation 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

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