The Digital Revolution Exhibition

The Digital Revolution exhibition held at the Barbican, London and runs from the 3rd July to the 14th September 2014. It was an interactive experience that showed of how far we'd come, what we're doing now and how code is becoming art. This is my review.

Barbican water gardens

Barbican water gardens

The exhibition was held within Barbican which is a late 1970s complex of buildings that houses residents, water gardens, a cinema and exhibition hall.

Apple Mac

Apple Mac

The exhibition started with an interactive introduction into the history of computer hardware, running nostalgic software from yesteryear up to the present day. The area contained an assortment of computer games, interwoven with ground breaking music hardware from the time and early websites. As you moved through the room you could play some classic games such as Pacman, Pong and Minecraft. The exhibition showed off some of the newer technology used to make films, like Inception and Gravity. There was also a look at how people interpret technology, for example Instagram has been used to show where US drone strikes had hit places in the Middle East. I find these interpretations of technology interesting because they open up your mind to new ideas. It makes me think, I bet the designers and developers never envisaged this use of content. It’s a reminder to how resourceful humans can be, like our early ancestors, we’re pushing the boundaries of what we expect something to do.

The exhibition opened up into a whole new area of dev art, artistry through the use of code. I’d heard of dev art but not really seen the extent of it, until now, and I was impressed. The exhibits I interacted with were fun and creative, an encapsulation of everything exciting about technology. Particular highlights involved flapping your arms about in front of a couple of Xbox One Kinects that were linked up to projectors, projecting your body with wings, allowing you to fly or for you body to be pecked away into dust by a flurry of birds. I enjoyed watching people discover a mirror that used face tracking software, that once triggered, would start streaming smoke from your eyes in a demonic way. I liked it because it was at the intersection of art and interactivity.

We had a fleeting look into area two, which was small and crowded but devoted to indie games, woops of joy were roaring up from younger gaming fans in there.

The final area of the exhibition was also dev art installation. A blackened room deep down in the Barbican’s basement. Within that room was a disco of the future, which comprised of lasers and lighting that would follow you or avoid your movements and gestures. It was clever and engaging you could dance with a laser as if you were in some kind of futurist Waltz, I’d love to see this on dance floors.

It was an interesting and different day out with plenty of creativity on show. The dev art was the biggest highlight with a few standout pieces. I’d have liked to have seen all the exhibits working correctly. It took the shine off seeing the Mac shutdown dialog box intruding on a piece and the indie games section could have been thought out better. I felt engaged throughout and it got the creative intrigue going.

I would recommend having a look before it finishes if you’re into art and technology, children would also enjoy it.

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