July 22, 2016

Unity Culture Club: On Your Radar – 22.07.16

This week, communities on Twitter have been reacting to the online racial abuse that has been targeted towards Ghostbusters’ actress Leslie Jones. Despite users’ outcries at these attacks, Twitter failed to take action until its Managing Director noticed personally.

While the racist activity is appalling in itself, it’s particularly worrying that it passed Twitter by for so long. This is one of the issues of living in an age that moves so quickly – a real-time, fast-paced culture that is bite-sized and largely anonymous – and the attack is just one of the symptoms of a wider problem.

With this in mind, this week’s On Your Radar focuses on those who endeavour to make us more aware, as well as the general need to pay attention and what happens when people – and businesses – fail to do so.

It’s time to look up and notice the world around you – whether it’s on- or offline.


It would be heresy to discuss the importance of awareness without looking at Chinese artist and activist, Ai Weiwei – a man who embodies the rare combined skills of both paying attention whilst being attention-grabbing.

His latest installation features 1,005 life jackets from refugees, arranged into the shape of lotus flowers for a floating installation in Vienna.

Importantly, each of of the 201 rings features five life jackets (the common number of people in a family likely to risk a crossing), so although the colourful life vests appear on the Belvedere Museum’s pond’s surface as a lotus flower (symbolising purity and longevity), they highlight the uncertain fate of the refugees who wore them.

Being one of the most prolific and politically engaged amongst his contemporaries, we have a lot to learn from him.

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A cross between art and technology, Look Up makes users pay attention to their surroundings by disrupting their phone use, hopefully saving lives in the process.

The smart app uses GPS and data from past crash injuries and fatalities in the user’s area to sense when a user reaches a busy crossing. The mobile vibrates and two abstract eyes in the background pop up on the phone screen. The intensity of vibration and the number of concentric rings around the pupils of the image indicate how many injuries have been linked with the location.

While currently only available on the streets of New York, the project is expanding in size and will hopefully be making the move to include other countries in the future. The creator himself wants the effect to live on past the app and help everyone to focus on what’s around them in the real world – and what happens when you do.

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One of the latest pieces of art to transform a London location is currently raising questions about the use of space and how it affects communities. Turner Prize-nominee Catherine Hass has installed a grand piano at the BBC’s old home in White City in a striking way: suspended over the Television Centre’s East Tower.

Her work is part of eight commissions by White Noise, who use art, exploratory journalism, and site-specific interventions to explore and draw attention to the area in order to ‘inform its future evolution in a way that benefits everyone.’

It’s a beautiful piece of art which also fills the space with sound – as its strings are ‘played’ by the wind, drawing more attention to the building. At a time when the area’s future is uncertain, as it is in the process of being demolished and refurbished, it is particularly poignant.

With the BBC’s rich history in the location, it is disappointing that the company seems to be unaware of what is happening in its old space at a time when cut and paste development is rife.

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A new photobook looks to highlight and document the ‘impermanence of culture’, shining a spotlight on people and places that are rare and interesting.

Titled ‘Endangered Species’, it acts as an exploration into general human behaviour and documents subjects that often represent the last of their respective communities. Its creator claims that the work is also an attempt to ‘juxtapose them against the current trends people are likely blind to’, preserving their images for future generations.

The photos are a great way to share cultures and people that the wider world may not be aware of – something that we can all take note of.

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As we’ve seen in this week’s On Your Radar, artists and innovators are all trying to make us more aware of our surrounding environment, so we can respond in real-time as any event occurs.

Brands that do this well and manage to navigate a shifting landscape everyday are sure to find success. With that in mind, we’re here to help you and your brand stay in the moment and respond accordingly – with our next Join the Dots event all about real-time marketing.

We’ll be hearing from Phil Lloyd, Head of Advertising, Paddy Power and Betfair, Paul Flatters, Chief Executive, The Trajectory Partnership and our very own Head of Digital – Ben Mason. They’ll be discussing the real-time approach when it comes to comms, and how brands can successfully engage both hearts and minds by sustaining relevancy – and reacting quickly.

Limited places are still available, sign up here.

Don’t let the world pass you by, no matter how quickly it tries to, say all at Unity.

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