Words by Jake Bailey

In a single room, the Digital Revolution exhibition charts the rapid progression of mass consumer technology over the last 40 years.

For those seeking a dose of digital nostalgia, there was the chance to play classic arcade games like Pong (1972) and Pac Man (1980) or boot up early home computers such as the ZX Spectrum (1982).

I wasn’t the only one taking the opportunity to relive a misspent youth, recalling the shortcuts in Super Mario Bros (1985) and reminiscing about Ceefax – how we would wait for ages for it to scroll to the flight, cinema listing or concert we wanted to book, then having to frantically scribble down the details before it moved on.

It was interesting to see the varying reactions of visitors to these devices – some with fond recollection, others – who have never known a world without the internet – with amazement at the primitive technology.

The more up-to-date installations demonstrated how technology has been used in the creation of anything from recent blockbusters like Gravity to innovative music videos.

Where next?
All very interesting, but how can these ideas influence the future as a business?

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A large screen (above) demonstrated how visual effects in the ground-breaking sci-fi film Inception (2010) were created. The fold-over sequence of Paris, much like a moving video version of Google Streetview, caught the imagination because it was gesture controlled. Users moved their hands over an invisible beam to control the visuals – something which could definitely be part of the broadcasting future. Imagine never having to search for the remote control, but simply controlling your TV by waving at it.

Energy Flow, produced by London collective FIELD, uses an algorithm – apparently based on Greek dramatic storytelling format – to piece together 10 pieces of video art in many permutations, rendering themselves to create different narratives each time.

Although it produced a slightly abstract video, it’s worth considering how this might be used in the creation of non-linear TV programmes. Much like Punchdrunks’ alternative theatre piece The Drowned Man, viewers may soon be able to dip in and out of different storylines, moving on as they please and gradually building a picture of the story presented. So, rather than moving through a storyline linearly from beginning to end, the plot is is depicted in layers, with each expanding upon the last, gradually filling in gaps and adding depth to viewers’ understanding.

Fragility of digital
Play the World by Zach Lieberman drew audio from radio stations across the world, allowing the user to play clips via a piano keyboard. The end result was a cacophonous mix of jingles, adverts, music and bulletins, providing glimpses of a rich cultural tapestry.

A definite highlight for me was people-watching, seeing how visitors, particularly younger ones, interacted with the exhibits in different ways. There was delight and spontaneity, mixed with some trepidation and varying levels of attention span. Interfaces based on gesture or action, instead of touch, seemed to particularly appeal to younger visitors.

It was also interesting to note the importance of audio as well as video in many of the experiences. In many exhibits, visitors were using several senses at once to control the performance, leading to a far more active participation than just passively looking at paintings or watching TV.

The exhibition also served as a reminder of the fragility and inherent instability of much that is digital. A number of displays had crashed, were only partly working or had been withdrawn for repair.

Many of us live and breathe technology, but sometimes it’s good to sit back and take stock – to see where we’ve come from, in order to decide where we should go next.

Digital Revolution at London’s Barbican continues until 14 September.

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The Making Colour exhibition is on at the National Gallery until Sunday so you should go this weekend really. I went today because I heard so much about it and I didn’t want to miss it. It is curated in a very clever way with each section comprising a selection of paintings in which a single colour is dominant, leading the audience through the ways and techniques its been used. With different examples in each room, you will travel around Art History seeing the different use of the colours in an attractive and smart exhibition. Do the cinema experience at the end, and you will definitely change the way you think about how we perceive colours and lighting.

This British Folk Art exhibition at the Tate Britain is a must see this summer. I love crafts, I do crafts myself. Its nice to see how these amazing artists work with different and unusual materials, like straw, to create beautiful pieces. It brings to mind the simplicity of doing art in domestic life, an indoor world, telling stories about rural work, life and customs.

The biggest finding was the work of Mary Linwood, a needlework artist, who made portraits with needle and colour thread in 1825. The portrait of Napoleon is one of the examples… amazing isn’t it?
Another beauty to see is James Williams, Patchwork bedcover, 1818 – 1895. Made of 5300 pieces it took him 10 years to make. That is real Patience.
Crafts are very important in Britain, and it seems that they always have been. Co-curated by the artist Jeff McMillan, this exhibition brings out the nostalgia of tradition and domestic life.

photos: Tate Britain website, Ana Escobar

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The Blue Ship ?c.1934 by Alfred Wallis 1855-1942

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James Williams, Patchwork bedcover

James Williams, Patchwork bedcover

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I was quite surprised by this exhibition. I think due to my ignorance I always related Jean Paul Gaultier with sex. I mean is not that I don’t like sex, but I just thought that all his clothing had a “pornographic” element. I was wrong, so wrong. I have to thank a friend who proved me wrong and with whom I discovered the amazing collections of this French fashion designer.

This exhibition is amusing and vast, you can see over 20 years worth of his portfolio, working with Kylie Minogue, Madonna, Kate Moss and many other artists that wanted to be his muse. Yes, the sex factor is still there, but there are many collections like ‘Folk’, where he incorporates a lot of elements from other cultures to create this collection, or the Madonnas or Saint, where religion embraces the collection.
If you can, go and see it, it is on until August 25th at the Barbican Centre, London.

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Photos: Silvina De Vita

I’m fascinated by these paintings by Eli Gabriel Halpern. I have a secret love for masks, I have a collection which my husband hates and won’t let me display on the wall, so at the moment they live in boxes. These strange creatures that Eli paints have all their faces covered, or maybe they are creatures from the woods? I don’t know, but it makes my imagination spin immensely. I want to know more about these characters and their lives, why they are gardening? Definitely a world worthy of further exploration guided by the hand of Eli Gabriel Halpern.

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The Gardeners

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Via Booooomm

You already know that I love paper cuttings, right? basically all my artwork at the moment is paper cuttings. So of course I went to this exhibition, the only problem was that I had an screaming baby so I had to do it very fast. And it was packed with people. But, the work exhibited was just stunning with some enormous pieces, you just can’t believe the size. I love that Matisse didn’t waste any moment of his life, as soon as he found he couldn’t paint anymore, he decided to go into painted paper cutting with the help of assistants, and that he was absolutely determined to keep making art. What an inspirational man! The colours, the nature, the patterns, beautifully curated, I could almost describe it as a little hug to the soul!
You can see a video of the exhibition made by Tate Modern.
It is on at the Tate Modern until September 7th

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