The Glass Room

Critical Exhibitions About Technology

Picture through the glass window of The Glass Room in London The Glass Room London, 2017; Photo courtesy of David Mirzoeff.

Picture this: you’re walking down a busy shopping street in a major city and you spot a new place that you hadn’t noticed before. Through the shiny glass windows you can see inside bright white tables, neon signs, and assistants wearing all white uniforms. It looks like a tech store, but as soon as you enter, you realize that nothing is for sale.

It’s actually a free public intervention that aims to demystify technology through immersive, thought-provoking, self-learning exhibitions. Here, visitors find a place where they can freely explore and critically discuss technology. The objects presented center on data, privacy and our relationship to the technologies and platforms which have become so commonplace in our everyday lives.

Photo of a series of white books that look like encyclopedias, which are titled: “Forgot Your Password”. One of the books is open, and it has hundreds of passwords printed along the page. “Forgot Your Password” by Aram Bartholl featured at The Glass Room San Francisco, 2019; Photo by Lucas Saugen.

We’re talking about The Glass Room which began as a large scale exhibition, traveling from Berlin to New York, London and San Francisco between 2016 and 2019 at a large scale, and transformed into a pop-up, reaching nearly a half million visitors in over 60 countries (numbers as of end of 2022)—who are eager to dig deeper into their digital lives.

Photo from The Glass Room in Accra with arms of visitors pointing at details on the poster. The Glass Room pop-up at re:publica in Accra, 2018; Photo courtesy of Safa Ghnaim.

By visiting the exhibition, visitors realize there are serious concerns about how technology is affecting societies and begin to ask: what can I do? From these conversations in The Glass Room, the concept for the Data Detox Kit emerged. In order to empower visitors, they are provided with tangible solutions through the Data Detox Kit which can simply and immediately be implemented.

The Data Detox Bar

The Data Detox Bar is a crucial element to The Glass Room exhibitions that invites visitors to have discussions about digital topics in an analogue space, creating a truly unique experience. The Data Detox Bar first emerged at The Glass Room in New York in 2016 as a way to giveaway the kit and to start conversations with visitors. It was then further developed in The Glass Room in London in 2017, featured as a central meeting point in San Francisco in 2019, and redesigned as a resource wall in Dresden in 2021-2022.

Picture of the Data Detox Bar in Dresden The Data Detox Bar at the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum, 2022; Photo by Oliver Killig. Photo courtesy of the Deutsches Hygiene-Museum Dresden.

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Last updated on: 3/23/2023