Barbican Digital Revolution exhibition: Techies, arty types get intimate
Should you eye up artful tech in 'London's ugliest' building? Yes
Commissioned by the Barbican Centre and Google, the DevArt area is designed to “challenge what code and art can be” by experimenting with creative possibilities.
Zach Lieberman: Play the World keyboard with global map and illuminating speakers. Note the wish butterfly animations projected in the background
A wall of animated butterflies turns out out more than just a colourful project. You make a wish up close to the microphone and your words then appear handwritten in front of you before transforming into your own butterfly wish and then flying away.
DevArt interactive cartooning in with Mr Kalia
Play the World is a musical installation. The viewing area is encircled with loudspeakers, with keys mapped to areas on the globe. Press the keys, and parts of the world light up and thanks to clever coding, live radio stations from across the planet are blasted from various speakers linked to specific keys. It's not exactly musical but it has its charm.
Likewise, the projected animation that tracks the user standing behind a screen, also known as Les métamorphoses de Mr Kalia (by Béatrice Lartigue and Cyril Diagne) goes through a series of changes as it follows your movements in this short, colourful journey.
On exiting the main exhibition space, you’re confronted by Our Digital Futures, which includes kiosks with brainwave-sensing technology and numerous fashion items including CuteCircuit’s iMiniSkirt, as worn by Katy Perry at last year’s iTune’s Festival for her performance of Roar.
This technoskirt is covered with tiny flexible LEDs and can be programmed to display a variety of images. At the show, the designers were demonstrating how you could tweet patterns to the skirt, which costs around £3,600, uses an ARM processor and has a battery life of about six hours.
Hanging out with the robot snakes: Petting Zoo by Minimaforms
Roam around the main foyer and you’ll find other exhibits such as the curious Petting Zoo by Minimaforms featuring charming robotic snakes. Further on, there’s the Indie Games Space, which includes various puzzles and bizarre gaming environments. During the press showing, a chap was busy in there plumbing in some screens with an Intel NUC on hand. He said they were using about 40 NUCs and they were indispensable for the show, which will be touring when its run at the Barbican ends in September.
Trip the light fantastic: Assemblance by Umbrellium
If you’re not paying attention you might miss out on the fun down in the Pit Theatre on level -2 where you’ll find Assemblance by Umbrellium, yet another interactive experience but with numerous laser light projections that ebb and flow, moving in response to hand movements. The reaction time of so many points of light is impressive and the behaviour modes change, and, if you know how, you can conjure up smoke rings from the installation.
Lose yourself for hours on a journey of digital interactivity and creativity
The two-and-a-half hours spent at Digital Revolution didn’t feel that long at all. Not only was there so much to see, there was so much to engage with. Its appeal is instantaneous, whether you're glancing at the first web page created by Tim Berners-Lee and reminiscing over the early days of creative tech or having your eyes turn to smoke as you stare into the Mirror. ®
Digital Revolution is at the Barbican Centre, London, from 3 July to 14 September 2014 and costs £12.50 for adults with a range of concessions available. Booking advised.