Digital Revolution at The Barbican, London
Something slightly different on the blog today. Mummy visited the Digital Revolution exhibition at The Barbican in London last week. A greatly anticipated event which had been on my mummy’s radar for some time. It was listed on Time Outs 10 Top Things to do in London last week.
The Barbican is Europe’s largest multi-arts venue showcasing art, music, theatre, dance, film and supporting creative learning. It looks like a plush cinema when you enter and ‘creatives’ fill the foyer on their trendy laptops and smartphones, working and having meetings.
We’ve traded the outdoors for indoors as we explored all things digital. Digital Revolution brings together artists, film-makers, CGI specialists, game designers, musicians (such as Will.i.am) and architects. Wow mummy! This exhibition looks really interesting, even for a non-geek like me! It’s an interactive show, so ‘do not touch’ doesn’t apply here! My kinda place!
Digital pets! Is this in our future?
As we walk into the Barbican we are greeted with a hub of activity, people are staring at something in the walkway near the entrance to the exhibition and ticket desk. On first glance it looks like hanging celling lights with funky LED lights, but as we walk past it, it follows us. Ooooo spooky! We realise that this is actually part of the exhibition called the Petting Zoo by Minimaforms who are an architecture and design studio.
It’s three giant robotic pet snakes which have the ability to adapt to their environment, mimic and touch their audience. The robotic installation of artificial intelligent creatures are designed to learn and explore behaviours through interaction with the public. It seems very alien. They love the attention and mummy spends a great deal of time playing with theses giant snakes. They follow her hand and shy away as she plays peek-a-boo with them. I think, artificial intelligence? Surely this is the rise of Skynet?? I’m worried.
As we turn to gain entry to the exhibition, we hear a familiar voice walk past us, mummy looks and is starstruck….it’s none other than the most famous musician/male pop artist in the charts Will.i.am. Wow! He looks just like he does in telly, my mummy thinks, grinning from ear to ear! He’s here to ensure his installation PYRAMIDI is running smoothly and to gauge public feedback on this opening day.
It’s further in the exhibition, so we make a note to visit it. He disappears into a lift with his mates and we, completely awestruck, head into the main exhibition. It’s very dark in here…….as we enter what as know as The Curve part of the Barbican, we are transformed into a world of large digital screens, the gentle humming from computer screens and lots of computer geeks playing on games consoles like PAC Man and Space Invaders. My mummy feels very nostalgic.
It’s like a computer museum, charting our digital past, cataloging early computers, digital artworks, video game cult classics and really old CGI footage.
However it has a computer expo feel about it and people are shuffling from one light box to another. It’s cramped and overwhelming, too much input Stephanie! We don’t spend long in the first part of The Curve.
Next on the list is something that we really must see…it’s called Creative Spaces, a behind the scenes look at films like Gravity and Inception. We are immersed in large screens taking us through the visual effects from Oscar Award winners Tim Webber at Framestone and Paul Franklin at Double Negative. We watch how they use different techniques from CGI and filming rigs to light boxes and robotic cameras to make these blockbuster movies.
Music makes the world go round
We move forward in the exhibition and suddenly we are ushered through a red velvet curtain in to a small dark room.
We realise it’s to see Will.i.am’s installation PYRAMIDI. Music pumps through the speakers and the wall comes to life with an animated visual backdrop. This Sound & Vision part of the exhibition explores how emerging technologies have changed the way we experience music.
Here you’ll find a 6ft tall 3D animated head of Will.i.am, created using projection mapping that follows you around the room, alongside three robot instruments performing his newly commissioned song ‘Dreamin’ About the Future’, it’s a collaborative project created with Yuri Suzuki.
In this section there is also interactive and computer generated music videos which you can watch and listen too.
I believe in angels
Next up is a showcase of electronic artists who are well-versed in computer code. Using their talents to translate boring code and numbers into something visually beautiful.
A stand out exhibit in the State of Play section was Chris Milk’s The Treachery of Sanctuary. My mummy’s always wanted to have wings…and in this interactive exhibit she gets the chance. Gesture control and camera technologies are used in this interactive shadow play piece of artwork.
My mummy stood infront of the white screens and was amazed how her arms transformed into wings. A bit like Kinect on the XBOX or Wii Sports.
But far more sophisticated and beautiful than that. My mummy loved it and it was spectacular to watch her shadow fly away up into the air.
Mirror Mirror on the wall…
In the next room a creepy mirror hung on the wall, like one you would find in a fairground House of Fun. It’s by Rafael Loranzo-Hemmer called The Year’s Midnight. My mummy had fun playing around with this interactive mirror. A camera is positioned to one side and locks onto your face as you stand in front of your reflection.
It triggers an animation within the mirror (which is actually a cleverly disguised screen) and plumes of white smoke pours out of your eyes, it’s clever and we spend a great deal of time mucking around with it.
We also dance around in front of Daniel Rozin’s real-time sketchy Mirror No. 10 as our reflections are sketched in front of us, like a Photoshop filter.
We head downstairs after visiting the Indie Games Space, where mummy challenges her friends to some old fashioned platform games. She loses gracefully claiming she’s out of practice.
We then are plunged again into darkness as we walk into the unique three-dimensional light field where we manipulate and dance around beams of lasers and luminous forms.
It’s very intense with smoke machines and lots of lasers and feels like we’ve entered a laser quest game. I’m half expecting someone to come out with a laser pack/gun and zap us.
We’ve been in for nearly two hours! As we leave the Barbican the bright sunshine hurts our eyes, seems like we’ve been indoors all day and in a different world. This is just a brief overview of our experience at the exhibition, it’s definitely worth a visit and teenagers would love it! The Digital Revolution exhibition goes on until the 14th September 2014.
Bella x oh…and mummy.