Digital Revolution at the Barbican

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On Thursday afternoon seven of us who work behind the scenes on digifest took a jaunt to the Barbican to see their incredible exhibition, Digital Revolution, and we weren’t disappointed. The first part of the exhibition is a trip down memory lane, with a chance to look at and use all the tech of yesteryear from the first Macintosh and midi synths to the original version of The Sims and Pong. We were then brought right up to date and shown far the digital industries have progress with behind the scenes looks at recent films with jaw dropping visuals, including Inception whose creator is a UCL alumnus and even filmed part of it here.

From the lesson in ‘digital archaeology’ and blockbuster films we moved on to sections about the maker movement and the ways in which the digital revolution has affected the art and music worlds. This is where some of the more well publicised installations lived such as Chris Milk’s The Treachery of Sanctuary, which you can see digifest’s very own Moira participating in below. Using Microsoft’s Kinect your silhouette becomes part of the triptych. In the first panel your body disintegrates into a flock of birds, in the second the birds attack you, in the third you have sprouted your own huge wings and can fly away.

One of my favourite pieces was Varvara Guljajeva and Mar Carnet’s Wishing Wall. You whisper a wish into one of the microphones, your wish appears on the screen and is transformed into a butterfly and flies off to join the other wishes. You can see one of the team’s wish taking wing below:

On the music side of the things there was a slightly terrifying work by will.i.am, Pyramidi, which he calls ‘Mona Lisa times a thousand’. A giant CGI Pharaoh head sings a song Mr am composed specially for the exhibition with three robot instruments playing themselves. The Mona Lisa reference becomes clear when the Pharoaoh’s gaze follows you as you move around the room in a rather unsettling fashion. It seemed to be able to follow multiple participants simultaneously, which was a little mind boggling.

I think the highlight for Janina and Steve was definitely what we dubbed ‘the laser room’ but is actually called Assemblance and put together by the Umbrellium team. In a pitch black room you were able to manipulate dozens of lasers by moving your hands and body. There are some great photos of that here, and we spent ages having fun in there.

All in all it was fantastic afternoon and really engaging exhibition that examined many of the same themes and ideas as digifest, how we use tech to connect, create, and collaborate.

The sunshine on the terrace afterwards was quite nice too…

Sunshine at the Barbican

 

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