‘Should digital, online adverts be considered art?’ was the central question of an exhibition we produced with curator Beatrice Galilee back in 2011. Our installation, 120 Hours (of Digital Display) took over the London HQ of the Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB) as part of a week-long celebration of digital creativity.
Conceived as a piece of theatre, we transformed their offices into a temporary exhibition space by reusing 400 polystyrene boxes floor to ceiling to create a plain white gallery space. Framed within these boxes were digital screens of various sizes, each one showing some of the best online and mobile digital advertising work of recent years from brands including EA Games, Starbucks and Emirates. By juxtaposing the digital adverts with specially-curated artworks and presenting them in this gallery context, we wanted to provoke a re-appraisal of the medium.
As Jack Wallington, Head of Industry Programmes at the IAB, explained: “The 120 Hours exhibition marks a milestone for the future of online and mobile display advertising. Digital ads have come a long way in the last 10 years and our aim was to shine a spotlight on the near-£1billion industry to celebrate the effort and creative genius that goes into the perfect ad.”
Our inspiration for the blocky design of the room came from early digital advertising itself – the boxes referenced the simple, pixilated interfaces that dominated the online adverting world’s infancy. These early, basic examples were created to account for the web’s then-slow speeds and low resolution, and by referencing these in our design it produced a spatial aesthetic that directly contrasted with the contemporary high-resolution designs highlighted within the exhibition. We used the lids of the boxes to create a floating ceiling above the space, continuing the whiteness of the room and allowing the colours of the adverts on-screen to disrupt the space with their colour and movement.
“Thank you for all your hard work pulling 120 Hours together. In such a short space of time you did what I thought would be impossible and made it a million times better than any of us expected. I still keep going into the gallery space and being blown away by it! … People LOVE what you’ve done. Every single person has said how cool it looks.”
Jack Wallington, Head of Industry Programmes, Internet Advertising Bureau
120 Hours was sponsored by Google subsidiary DoubleClick Rich Media.
Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB)
Internet Advertising Bureau (IAB), London