Videogames, interactive documentaries, VFX: whether you are a media archaeologist, a nostalgic lover of game consoles from the 1980s, a curious investigator of wearable technologies or a fan of the latest hi-tech blockbuster, there is only one place to be in London this summer: the Barbican Centre, home until 14 September to the Digital Revolution exhibition.
What I find particularly exciting about this moment in the history of technology is the fertile interaction between artists and architects, designers and game developers, and musicians and filmmakers. Truly amazing collaborations born in the name of digital media are taking place and if you want to experience some of the most intriguing projects blending creativity and digital media, then you should definitely visit Digital Revolution.
If you miss the old video games you’ll be able to play Pong, Pac-Man and Space Invaders one more time, or dive into your childhood by once again experiencing Tetris and Super Mario on the Game Boy. If you are more of a film addict eager to know all the secrets behind your favourite big budget movies, you’ll discover how the most complex scenes from Christopher Nolan’s Inception or Alfonso Cuaron’s Gravity (not to mention the seminal Tron, Star Wars, The Lawnmower Man, Terminator 2 and Jurassic Park) were created.
One of my favourite pieces on display is The Johnny Cash Project, the very well known crowd-sourced and still active tribute to the Man in Black conceived by Aaron Koblin and Chris Milk. You can experience and contribute to it online here.
Digital Revolution features a further installation by Milk. The Treachery of Sanctuary is an interactive triptych which, as stated by the director himself on his website, “tells a story of birth, death, and transfiguration that uses projections of the participants’ own bodies to unlock a new artistic language”. More info about the making of this project and its links to the prehistoric paintings on the walls of the caves of Lascaux is available on The Creators Project’s website.
Coding and augmented reality, hybrid technologies and artificial intelligence are all packed under the same roof. Take your time while exploring all the sections of the exhibition: sometimes the environment is overwhelming due to the noise, the crowd and the large amount of sensory stimuli. Your body will feel the need for a few moments of quiet, so listen to it and take a break.
Some personal advice to conclude: read the instructions. They’re there to help us and I saw many visitors misinterpreting how some installations work. I even caught several people trying to listen to what they thought were speakers, which were actually microphones to capture the sound of their own voices. Just saying…
(Photos and video taken by Nicolò Gallio at the Barbican Centre on 13 July; video Welcome to Digital Revolution © Barbican Centre).