A REVIEW OF THE BARBICAN DIGITAL REVOLUTION
In August 2014 the I went with the Cubitt Young Artists to the Barbican Digital Revolution or more commonly known as the Barbican Digital Exhibition. The exhibition celebrates digital technology and aims to create art through code. As we were doing animation as the theme of our summer school course, the higher ups thought it was relevant to go pay a visit and thats exactly what we did.
We were provided with tickets to the event through Cubitt for free I can’t really remark on the price, however I can comment on the quality of the displays at the event. From an audience stand point I believe the exhibition to be a goldmine for tech lovers from any generation. As you walk toward the reception to verify your ticket, you will be greeted by a loud but recognizable sound. We were greeted with “Green Hill Zone” theme from Sonic as we began technological adventure. I believe the theme varies depending on the time of day but you will surely hearn recognizable sounds as I do recall someone mentioning hearing the Pacman theme instead of Sonic. As you enter the first section of the hall you will realize that it is dedicated to digital technology that paved the way for modern tech, as you can see from the picture below. This section immortalizes certain games that were groundbreaking at the time for example Sims for the PC and the original Tomb Raider game.
On our way to the next section we noticed a…um…this thing. Till this day we aren’t really sure what this was supposed to be. All we know is that it is reminiscent of Dr. Octopus’ mechanical appendages.
This image distorter caught our eye and we all flocked to it like moths to the flame. Once upon time I did have information on its creator and its relevance to the exhibition but it seems that I have long lost this data, and thus we shall move on.
We were again side tracked by this…thing. It allowed our eyes to gain an eerie white aura. It seemed to have a high success rate but it did take aggravatingly long to actually work sometimes, However it was conveniently placed at the end of the queue for one of the main attractions. This meant that the wait didn’t feel as long as it should have.
Now that we finally reached the main attraction, or for me – the highlight of the day, for better or worse. Allow me some time to describe it fully. Three people stand in front of three screens. Light is lit behind the person so that the silhouette appears on the screen. Now according to what screen you stand in front of, different things will happen to your silhouette.
- The first screen will form your silhouette from a flock of birds landing into the silhouette.
- The second screen will get your silhouette eaten by birds (probably by a flock of crows)
- The last screen will turn your silhouette’s arms into wings. If you flap hard enough will take flight and fly of screen.
This is all cool and all but you have to be about 12 feet away from the screen and that 12 feet is filled with a shallow pool of water. For what reason this mass of water exists is beyond me but all I know is that all that is separating my human flesh from this water is a mere piece of string that is no bigger than the string I use to floss my teeth. You are forewarned about this predicament but to my disappointment this string is practically invisible and it doesn’t even come up to my knees. Before you know it you’re staring in awe but the feeling of disgust slowly creeps up your face as you realize you just wet your shoe and more importantly your sock.
We found a piano whose each key was linked to a radio station around the world. That was pretty cool.
Right next to the piano was this stick guy. If you were to dance behind a screen the stick guy would mirror your movements to the best of its ability. Furthermore the stick guy had interactive games that you could play behind the screen. For example, locks would appear on his joints and you would have to open each one of them. This allowed for a more fun experience and could serve as a glance of what the future of dance games holds in store for us. Just like the picture distorter, I once had more information on the creator but I have since lost that.
At the exhibition there was also this weird projection of will.i.am in an Egyptian headgear. If you made eye contact the head would follow you wherever you went in the room. In addition to this the head would make everyone feel that they specifically were being followed. I’m not sure how it works but that’s kinda creepy and cool at the same time. As you can see there are some pyramids in the picture.
A triangle has three points
A pyramid is three triangles *forget the base for now*
There are three pyramids
will.i.am is three words
will.i.am is illumanati
Last but not least we somehow stumbled upon the indie gaming section. Here we discovered one of the most simplest but enjoyable game in recent years, Nidhogg. The game’s formula is pretty simple: kill the enemy stick figure to proceed to the next stage and eventually sacrifice yourself to the mighty Nidhogg. The idea of the game is as basic as can be, but the way it was presented and executed shoots the ball well out of orbit. The gameplay leads to a constant tug of war between two players which often leads to a lot of fun. Its easy to understand its relevance to the exhibition as its primitive design but highly addictive gameplay ties in to the exhibition’s ideology to create art through code. We spent at least an hour hogging this game all to ourselves and I highly recommend it to people who enjoy the fighting game genre.
Overall I would recommend everyone to visit the Barbican’s Digital Revolution at least once. I assure you that you’re bound to learn one or two new things about the world of technology, may it be its past or the future of it. Personally, I believe that I learnt a multitude of things at the event such as the wide use of technology, the existence of Nidhogg, to always look at the floor before you step into a pool of water etc. Jokes aside, this experience has got me craving for similar ones and I wish to go to the Digital Shoreditch Festival in May. I plan to share this review with others through social media.