Hosted in the Art Projects Screening Room, is an accompanying programme of collaborative film and new media initiatives, another spectacular guest curated section within London Art Fair.
In the episode of Futurama called A Fishful of Dollars, Philip J. Fry, who has inadvertently time-travelled a thousand years into the future, is outraged to find that adverts are being beamed into his dreams:
Leela: “Didn’t you have ads in the 20th century?”
Fry: “Well sure, but not in our dreams! Only on TV and radio… and in magazines… and movies… and at ball games … and on buses and milk cartons and T-shirts and bananas and written in the sky. But not in dreams. No, sirree!”
‘Playtime’ in the Art Projects Screening Room is an exhibition that explores how the increasing commodification of our society now includes many aspects of our leisure time as well, often unexpectedly. Strategies to boost productivity have seeped into all aspects of our lives, including our private spaces, as highlighted in the looped animations of David Theobald. Our domestic appliances are complicit in increasing the rapidity of our purchasing behaviour – as explored in Theobald’s The Internet of Things (IoT) – and even play has become another part of the production line, as symbolised by a robotic arm juggling party balloons in Workers’ Playtime.
Within our leisure time, it isn’t only our spending that is important, but all aspects of our existence, from the conversations we have to where we physically stand. Within the context of the culture industries, visitor numbers are often vital for a whole host of differing arts organisations to secure public funding or private sponsorship. Each visitor thus becomes an important economic unit simply by attending an exhibition/event (whether you’ve had to pay for entry or not) and the monetary value of your presence is playfully examined by an interactive installation for the Screening Room created by Studio Hyte.
Our engagement with social media provides a significant marketing boost for any company or organisation that we might praise as well. In reaction, the artworks of Samantha Humphreys explore how the digital interactions made via our personal smartphones and tablets give tangible value to corporate interests and asks the question: if our leisure time is so valuable to other people, shouldn’t we be given something more in return?
Whereas in the past questions such as “how much is my time worth?” were mainly linked to the hourly rate dictated by our employer, ‘Playtime’ asks “how do we assess the value of our leisure time?” and, perhaps more pressingly (particularly after the recent Facebook–Cambridge Analytica data scandal), “how do we know what our leisure time is worth to others?”
‘Playtime’ is curated by Pryle Behrman and runs throughout London Art Fair in the Art Projects Screening Room on Gallery Level 1.
Pryle Behrman is an art journalist, curator and academic. He has written regularly for national newspapers and several major art magazines, in particular Art Monthly, and is also Senior Lecturer in Art and the Environment at Writtle University College in Essex.
Pryle has worked as the curator of the Art Projects section of London Art Fair in previous years and curated the 2019 programme for the Art Projects Screening Room.