Digital Revolution at Barbican Centre

Posted on August 22, 2014 by Toothpicker There have been 0 comments

digital revolution


There are many excellent summer exhibitions in London this year but if you are looking for one with a wow factor, you need to visit the immersive Digital Revolution at the Barbican. It is nostalgic, futuristic, interactive, fun and entertaining!

If like me, you are able to recognise (or even owned) the games and products in the first 'archaeology' section of the exhibition, then you would probably feel prehistoric! There are Pac-man, Pong,  Apple's original Macintosh (which I once owned) and handheld video games like Nintendo's Game & Watch and Game Boy (which I also owned), so playing Tetris and Pac-man at the exhibition really brought back childhood memories.


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Beyond the nostalgic section, there are 12 other sections including an off-site one. One of the section, Creative Spaces showcases the visual technology of blockbuster films, Inception and Gravity. Another one, Sound & Vision features a special installation 'The Pyramidi' made for the gallery by global music artist and entrepreneur in collaboration with London-based Japanese sound designer Yuri Suzuki. You can watch part of it in the short video below, but it does not capture the 3-D and sound effects that can be seen and heard in person.


The Pyramidi by and Yuri Suzuki


Another hightlights at the exhibition is Chris Milk's The Treachery of Sanctuary, a large-scale interactive triptych: a story of birth, death, and transfiguration that uses projections of the participants’ own bodies to unlock a new artistic language.

And in the last section of the Curve gallery space, there are intallations by DevArt, a celebration of art made with code, using technology as the canvas. Some of the world’s finest interactive artists Karsten Schmidt, Zach Lieberman, and the duo Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet are commissioned by Google and the Barbican to create large interactive installations including 'Play the World' Piano, 'Co(de)factory' and 'Wishing Wall'. You can watch a video of the concept and making of Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet's wonderful 'Wishing Wall' below:


Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Canet's 'Wishing Wall'


Another impressive installation, 'Umbrellium Assemblance' is located below in the Pits theatre where you it is pitch dark with only three-dimensional light field where you can collaborate with others to shape, manipulate and interact with the light source from above.

And finally visitors can even spend time at the Indie Games Space and play games created by cult indepenent game devlopers.


Chris Milk's The Treachery of SanctuaryThe Pyramidi by and Yuri SuzukiCo(de)factory

Left: Chris Milk's The Treachery of Sanctuary; Middle: The Pyramidi by and Yuri Suzuki; Right: Karsten Schmidt's Co(de)factory


Like many people (generally people born before 1984), I have a complex and conflicted relationship in regards to digital technology. It is essential for what I do, yet I want to see it merely as a tool to enhance my life/work rather than being taken over by it or becoming too dependent on it. However, it is harder to find that balance these days unless we make very conscious to not let it become intrusive or discruptive to our lives.

The exhibition reveals how digital technology has shaped and changed our lives in the past 30+ years, and it would be interesting to see how it continues to evolve. Yet it is also disconcerting to think that the older generation (like my parents' generation) who is not familiar with the digital technology is now being isolated or marginalised. If advancing digital technology is meant to enhance and improve our lives and future, then is it fair to neglect the computer-illiterates in our society? Not only it makes them feel powerless, it also means that they would need to depend on others to get simple tasks done for them.

My mum often complains and says,"The world is moving too fast and I can't catch up." Well, to be honest, neither can I.


This post was posted in London, Exhibitions, Art, Design and was tagged with London, art and design exhibitions, Barbican, digital revolution