At first glance, it looks like any ordinary shopfront – but the signs in the window at Unit 6 of Peckham’s Aylesham Centre aren’t offering you manicures or replacement phone screens.
From interplanetary money transfer services to fast food made from insect protein, these garishly colourful signs flash and blink a hi-tech vision of the future rendered in lo-tech LEDs.
Visual artist and designer Simon the Last has taken over a vacant shopfront in the south London shopping arcade with his work WE WILL STILL BE HERE / WILL WE STILL BE HERE.
The eye-catching installation features 10 illuminated LED shop window signs arranged in a single shopfront and imagines which products and services might be available “while-u-wait” 50 years from now.
The inspiration for the piece came from the neighbourhoods of south and east London where Simon has lived and worked for the past 15 years.
Simon comments, “With WE WILL STILL BE HERE / WILL WE STILL BE HERE, I want to present today’s cutting edge/near-future technology as if it were a high street offering, but one where the shop is empty – a colourful promise with nothing to back it up. I want to present a future where shiny things that once attracted billion-dollar investments are now run-of-the-mill retail, and nothing has changed for the better.”
WE WILL STILL BE HERE / WILL WE STILL BE HERE features over 3,600 individually installed LEDs, questions our relationship with emerging technologies, our worship of tech oligarchs, and the narrow visions of the future they propose.
It asks whether these self-appointed architects of the future will save us from environmental and economic disaster, or if their innovations and disruptions only accelerate our demise – if they move us forward, or keep us exactly where we are.
The Aylesham Centre, Rye Lane, Peckham SE15 5EW from Monday 3rd April – Sunday 23rd April 2023.
Visitors can view the installation 7am – 10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am – 4pm Sunday.