Bacteria found on a mobile phoneMobile

Arena Art Gallery, 82-84 Duke Street
13th August – 3rd September 2005 (Wed-Sat only 12:00-17:00)

Reviewed by Adam Ford

Mobiles eh? Love them or hate them, you can’t live without them. Well, I believe some very primitive societies did without them at some point, but that was much too long ago for my poor radiation-addled brain to recall. Yes, these days 79% of us carry a government tracking device in our pockets, and they have definitely changed our lives for the quicker. So could an exhibition on the subject make us think about these minor irritants in a new way? Well maybe not, but it’s quirky enough to hold the interest for a good twenty minutes.

The first thing I noticed on strolling inside was a piece of string that lay sprawling across the floor, just inviting me to trip on over. Closer inspection revealed that there was a plastic cup at either end, and apparently that made it the longest string telephone in the world. How long was the piece of string? Well it didn't look that long, and I’ve heard there’s a longer one in an attic in Liechtenstein, but maybe that’s just an urban myth. Anyway, I guess the point was that modern day mobile phones are the techno-logical extension of our childhood toys, just the strings are made of radio waves and we are further apart now than ever.

In one corner there is a continuous loop of photographs taken on the camera phones of visitors to the exhibition. There was some graffiti and quite a few cats when I was there, but it could do with some happy slapping to liven it up, so over to you. Only amongst consenting adults obviously.

If you want to swap ear wax with a complete stranger, then how about listening to music inspired by a Nokia ringtone on a couple of those little ear phones that you have to stick right in to stop them falling out? You know you want to...

But by far the most fun to be had is courtesy of a man in a Swedish hut who glories under the sobriquet of the ‘SMS Oracle'. Text him any question you like and he will get back to you with a spooky answer. I asked him when the next issue of Nerve magazine will be out and he replied:

'U could ask the publishers, they are just over the road. I would guess in a couple of months.'
And we are. And it probably will be. Amazing...

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