03 Dec 2015 — 20 Mar 2016 - Now Closed

BBD Utopia/Dystopia: Ellie Harrison, Artist Talk

Free, with Exhibition Entry
Vending Machine, 2009 © Ellie Harrison

Vending Machine, 2009 © Ellie Harrison

Ellie Harrison has a love-hate relationship with data. Listen in on Ellie’s live skype talk discussing Data Utopia/Dystopia in relation to her exhibit ‘Vending Machine’ and other research and projects.

With her early works such as Eat 22 (2001-2) – for which she photographed and recorded information about everything she ate for a year – she was one of the pioneers of ‘lifelogging’. In the days before smartphones and apps, she manually tracked and made public huge amounts of information about her everyday routine. Such as the total distance she travelled on London Transport in a year (9,236 km) for Gold Card Adventures (2002-3) and what she was thinking about every time she had a hot drink for Tea Blog (2006-8). For her final project Timelines (2006) she attempted to document everything she did, 24 hours a day, for four weeks.

But as technologies began to emerge to make this obsessive self-tracking easier, Ellie became sceptical of the process, having experienced some of its negative side effects firsthand. She publicly ‘quit data collecting’ in 2006, publishing the book Confessions of a Recovering Data Collector in 2009. However, she quickly came to realise that this desire to quantify the world as a way of dealing with and understanding its complexities wasn’t that easy to shift. It was an ingrained mindset: the result of her upbringing in Thatcher’s post-Fordist Britain and of being one of the first wave of young artists to develop an art practice which had the computer as its central tool.

Her recent work attempts to put this desire to visualise data to good use – navigating the vast swathes of it we are now bombarded with to seek out and demystify important information about our political and economic systems – bringing it to life in playful and provocative ways. See Vending Machine (2009), A Brief History of Privatisation (2011) and her most recent performance / event High Street Casualties: Ellie Harrison’s Zombie Walk (2015).


Ellie Harrison (b. London 1979) is an artist and activist based in Glasgow. Her work seeks to investigate, expose and challenge the absurd consequences of our capitalist system, and to explore the impact free-market forces are having on our society and our individual day-to-day lives.

As well as making playful, politically engaged works for gallery contexts and the public realm, she is also the coordinator of the Bring Back British Rail campaign – which strives to popularise the idea of renationalising the UK’s public transport system – and the agent for The Artists’ Bond – a long-term speculative funding scheme for artists.


Drop In, Free with Exhibition Entry – Spaces Limited

Time: 15.30 – 16.30
Location: Data Studio