Digital Revolution at the Barbican until 14th September

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I had desperately wanted to get down to London to see this Digital show, but with deadlines short this was the only date available, with College Workshops shut on a Friday the only thing left for me to do was the writing and visit this show, so with 4 hours on the train to concentrate on my critical evaluation I thought it was a perfect opportunity to marry the two.

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The exhibition is broken up into sections.

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Although it was fascinating to see all of the old technology I had hoped for more from this section, I recognised quite a few games and consoles, such as an old spectrum and the cream coloured macs with floppy disk drive, it wasn’t much of a revolution.

Quantel Paintbox, 1981, predecessor of the Wacom Tablet, revolutionised the way graphics were produced

Quantel Paintbox, 1981, predecessor of the Wacom Tablet, revolutionised the way graphics were produced

My frame for the Johnny Cash Project

My frame for the Johnny Cash Project

The We Create section was more what I was expecting, you could submit your art in the Johnny Cash Project and interact with robotic birds made from recycled phones, by contacting them on an old dial phone.

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The information about inception and gravity was interesting, but the way they presented and you could access the behind the scenes layers of Inception was of more interest to me, they looked to be using leapmotion…. A wonderful little device which can track five fingers of movement in 3D space. Really fluid transition though the layers on information, very responsive and made it very easy to jump in and use.

wpid-dsc_0179.jpgwpid-dsc_0177.jpgUsing the leap motion to scroll through the layers used in the making of Inception.

will.i.am using one of the oldest illusions in the world the inverted shape to give that 3D effect

will.i.am using one of the oldest illusions in the world the inverted shape to give that 3D effect

The will.i.am project was ok, it was just a platform with fancy animatronics to control the individually designed pyramid instruments and the cleverest part was the use of the inverted shape to give the illusion that his eyes and face were following you around the room, but it’s a very old trick.

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Chris Milk’s ‘State of play’ is a really impressive interactive art piece, this is exactly what I expected from the digital revolution show – and it looked spectacular, the movement was fluid and although it all happens quite quickly, you really get engaged with your shadow and what happens to it in the three stages. Very reactive and fully immersive in the massive space.

Dev art was full of more quirky pieces, I wasn’t sure if I was contributing to the art there or not for some of the pieces, but the keyboard radio was quite fascinating.

Dev Art area

Dev Art area

Digital futures included lady gagas dress and a skirt you could put pregenerated led light images onto (iMiniskirt).

Again the indie games section was interesting but not what I’d call innovative.

Mimaforms petting zoo

Mimaforms petting zoo

The mimaforms petting zoo was only disappointing because I didn’t see a single person successfully interact with them, they looked cool though.

Umbrellium

Umbrellium

Umbrellium was a trance experience in a smoky underbelly space and felt like being at the end of a quiet rave, when viewed through the plexiglass window whilst we had our pep talk, it looked like a zombie movie, people entranced by the light moving slowly about with their arms outraised to the light.

Marshmallow Laser Feast Forest

Marshmallow Laser Feast Forest

The Laser feast tree installation was a work on an immense scale, it looked amazing and gently moving through the ‘trees’ giving each trunk a good push make pleasing tones and I really enjoyed watching the laser lights on the roof dance about alongside their relaxing notes.

Overall I was slightly disappointed with The Barbican show, but on the other hand very interested to see that my peer Andy Logies art and sound piece, would fit straight in, and with a few tweaks, so would mine.

Andy had his Forum exhibition on Thursday and it was brilliant, it worked wel, looked fantastic on the enormous screens they have in the Fusion screen at the Forum, and I thoroughly enjoyed interacting with his piece.

Andy Logie's piece 'bound'

Andy Logie’s piece ‘bound’

Although it made me think a little more about mine, would my piece be as engaging, it’s a very quick shot – firing  the flight animation – will it hold the viewer for more than a moment, how do I get across the meaning behind it… ie, this is what AR could do for you, and you already have the device in your pocket!

The V&A palindrome sign

The V&A palindrome sign

I managed to squeeze in a quick dash to the V & A, to see their interactive tables….

Interactive material tables in the furniture section at the V&A

Interactive material tables in the furniture section at the V&A

The V & A furniture collection have introduced touch screens with information beside the object, but they are just so dry, very similar to the screens at Norwich Museum, even though they are right by the object, they feel strangely disconnected and are uninteresting to click on.

wpid-dsc_0128.jpgThe materials interactive tables are also disappointing… although you have the added interest of tactility with the object itself, they have samples of the different materials scattered around the tables edge, the content that comes up is just like a page from the internet and again it’s a very dry way of interacting.

Different media/materials are on the outside of the table

Different media/materials are on the outside of the table

The way that it functions is also slightly awkward as you need to hold your hand over the little hole that they have in each different piece of wood or metal sample, and if you remove your hand before it’s loaded it can stall and disappear, conversely if you do want to read the other pages, hovering over the object for their pre-determined amount of time feels like an eternity to wait. I would like to have seen the first page come up much quicker and then be able to control the speed and which page I am viewing with the more intuitive hand swipes and gesture that we are used to using.

The holes which you need to cover in order for the interactivity to work

The holes which you need to cover in order for the interactivity to work

It’s a very large area for not much happening.

Rapid Response Collectiona st the V&A

Rapid Response Collection at the V&A

However the rapid response collecting area which I stumbled upon was a really pleasant surprise.

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“The museum collected the objects in this gallery in direct response to important moments in the recent history of design and manufacturing”

Flappy bird and the nude shoe

Flappy bird and the nude shoe

An eclectic collection of a dozen objects, one of which included the app ‘flappy bird’ and a wearable terminal, they had an oculus rift headset.

Oculus Rift in the Rapid Response collection at the V&A

Oculus Rift in the Rapid Response collection at the V&A

Great to see such an established Museum making a collection out of news headline tech or social changes.

Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects

Disobedient Objects is one of the featured shows within the V&A currently and it was interesting to see this very politically motivated exhibition on one side of the beautiful reception area, and just opposite were the beautiful statues in a grand space.

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