Let the Music Make Them Dance (2019)

Mixed media installation presented at The Gallery, MARs Research Hub, Goldsmiths University of London (05/2019)

Materials: 2-channel video installation & sound; drawings / ink, paper; 3d printed plastic; wood; silk


The title of this work is a quote Shoshana Zuboff (‘The Age of Surveillance Capitalism’, 2019) attributes to an anonymous data scientist: the purpose of the surveillance economy is to ‘let the music make them dance’. People are being covertly manipulated as their data is extracted and commodified.

The installation is conceived as a rhythmic field, composed of elements of sound, movement textures, doodled lines, and brainwave biofeedback. Automatic drawings map out an 18 month-long daily dance research method that is an attempt at inducing an altered state of consciousness through movement. The process was also measured using a commercial EEG aimed at the mindfulness industry.

A moving image piece, presented on two facing screens, is a slow Sisyphean cycle of rising and falling, order and entropy, transmitting an uncanny dynamic across the room. The bodies on the screens appear to be floating underwater to the tune of a remixed Muzak track called Stimulus Progression, background music developed to increase productivity in the workplace or the shopping mall.

A low noren curtain touches the viewer’s head upon entry, shifting the air in the room and setting the soft silk fabric in motion. It depicts fossil rubbings of the Ediacara biota, when the first multicellular organisms appeared, 650 million years ago. These underwater gelatinous organisms were autotrophs and there was no predation. On the lectern in the corner is the book ‘Wonderful Life’ by the paleontologist Stephen Jay Gould, giving an account of the transition to the Cambrian era with its heads, mouths, eyes and nervous systems.

A series of meditations are offered in a space designed for relaxation, where visitors can track and measure their brainwaves using the EEG headbands and track themselves.

In this immersive ‘amniotic space’ the visitor is invited to consider their participation in the subtle and insidious structures of surveillance capitalism.