While I continued to address information, I found that my previous piece had not depicted the scale of data available about the migrant crisis. 30 pieces of paper showing 30 participants was a small yield compared to the massive sum of data that surrounded the issue. My work this term was looking to address this seeming abundance of data, but the only way I could prove this was through physical evidence. I turned towards the mainstream media, particularly newspapers.
I had found through research that popular newspapers did not archive their releases online, meaning it was incredibly difficult to find articles from previous issues. I came across the website ‘Press Reader’ (http://www.pressreader.com/) which archived and stored some of the most popular newspapers from around the globe on their database. The UK papers that they archived included, but was not limited to: ‘The Wall Street Journal’, ‘The Guardian’, ‘The Daily Telegraph’, ‘The Daily Mail’ and ‘The Daily Express’.
From personal experience I had found that, following the death of Aylan Kurdi (the small child washed up on a Turkish beach in early September), reports on the migrant crisis had skyrocketed. Every hour it seemed as though there were 2 new articles by each newspaper company, each trying to get the latest “scoop” and distribute new, shocking statistics that would cause some sort of reaction from their readers. Indeed, it was not until the events of September 3rd that the topic became a huge social media hit, with a large majority of my friends quickly creating and posting about their opinions to how the crisis could be solved/how terrible the situation was. It was as though everyone had suddenly become an expert in the aftermath of that tragedy. What I wanted to show, however, was not how these comments were meaningless, or how more attention needed to be paid to the crisis, but how the newspapers were continuously printing more about the issue; how there was so much data that it was all essentially meaningless–who was (or is) ever going to read all of this information.
The piece shows every single article written about the migrant crisis from 5 major newspapers (‘The Daily Mail’, ‘The Daily Express’, ‘The Daily Telegraph’, ‘The Wall Street Journal’ and ‘The Guardian’) between the period 1 August to 9 November.
One thing that is immediately clear to see is the bias of some newspapers. The Daily Mail, for example, is famous for its outlandish and spectacular headlines and stories. When put together with articles from broadsheet newspapers like The Guardian, it is clear to see that the Daily Mail authors are trying to swing the readers opinion. Phrases like “swarm”; “new war”; “migrant mayhem” all give the impression of some apocalyptic disaster that is clutching Europe by the throat. In comparison, The Guardian refuses to use such phrases, instead attempting to distribute the facts as they are. Yet, what is interesting to note about this is that people who view the piece are instantly drawn to the big, bold headlines and the sensationalist comments of The Daily Mail as opposed to the blocks of text provided by The Guardian. From watching people experience the piece, I have found that no-one takes the time to read the articles, but simply reads the headlines and looks at the pictures, sometimes commenting on how vast the scale of the piece is. What I reiterate to these people is exactly that. The piece is about the scale of the data; about how there is so much that it is all meaningless, no one will ever read all of or, indeed, any of these articles. By experiencing the piece, the people themselves are confirming my notion that the more information there is on something, the more meaningless it becomes. I feel the piece was successful in exploring the idea. The fact that only 5 news papers were able to completely fill 3 large walls shows that the problem of data overload, of this abundance of information, is a clear issue. My response to the piece soon evolved into the ways in which this abundance of data can be used by people. How is all this information useful? Can it ever be useful?
The piece shares some comparisons with my first idea (posted below). Firstly, both pieces are looking to address the idea of data, the vastness of data and the abundance of information in the 21st Century. Similarly, both pieces confront the change of physical entities–people’s lives, memories and experiences–into data; binary; 0s and 1s. The experiences of these refugees are turned into stories and statistics that are fed back to viewers, and are ultimately meaningless. Furthermore, both pieces involve audience participation. The ideas that surround the pieces are only affirmed through an audiences’ participations with it. The pieces differ in their attempts to depict the scale of data, however. This piece is more successful in depicting the scale as the huge information wall (as I call it) confronts visitors, towering above them and around them, surrounding them. They feel as though they have entered a new, unknown environment.
The piece is comprised of close to 500 pieces of paper, estimated to cost around £45, using 0.4% of a tree, and emitting 1.5kg of CO2 from 93.8 hours of bulb. (Stats as of 10 November)