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installation art

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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My husband was telling me about this project yesterday because the company that he works for is broadcasting this event, and I found it amusing.
Viennese artist Alex Kiessling and Strukt Design studio will embark on a cross-border project that merges art and technology by using industrial robots to simultaneously create large-scale drawings in three european cities. Taking place at an event hosted by the Vienna tourist board on September 26th, 2013, ‘Long Distance Art’ will feed real-time tracking via satellite to the two remote robotic devices, one stationed in Berlin, at Breitscheidplatz, and the other in london, at trafalgar square, and will mirror Kiessling’s movements in real time. the project calls on the use of a prototyping program called vvvv, which facilitates the handling of large media environments with physical interfaces, real-time motion graphics, and audio and video that can interact with many users at the same time. once completed, Kiessling will take all three independent artworks from the various cities and join them together in a triptych.

To see a version of the robot in action, watch the video below:

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Via Design Boom

Every year, Wimbledon Art Studios opens their doors to visitors. Every artist uses their own studio to show what they’ve been working on all year. What I love about this place is the atmosphere and that you can find a whole range of art – photography, illustration, design, painting, sculpture – there is something for every taste.

This year I will be participating here with my paintings, illustrations and paper sculptures, and I’m very excited.

So if you are a Londoner put in your diary and do come and visit from November 22nd to 25th, and you can see more than 150 artist all in the same place!
For more info click here or read the images below.

Japanese Kumi Yamashita uses paper to make portraits using light and shadow. It is a simple idea but clever and delicate at the same time. The way that she uses colour paper is very special because at first glance all you see is a piece of coloured paper. She takes half and hour to complete one of these profiles. She says that she can do any profile… I can ask her if she can do mine!

She says about her work “I am drawn to temporary things. The appreciation for my own country grows. I love natural light, the shadow of trees on the ground.
I love looking at the orange glow from a farmhouse in the countryside. I love the light on the hills right before the sun sets at the end of summer.
I don’t usually start with ideas. I love visually beautiful things, things that are nice to look at. and, afterwards, I think about the meaning.’

Via design boom

Jody Xiong and the China Environmental Protection Foundation made this public outdoor campaign to remind people of the benefits of walking instead of driving. These amazing horizontal billboards are placed on streets at 132 crossroads in 15 different cities. Green paint is placed either side of the billboard so when people walk past they leave footprints on the billboard, like they were leaves on a tree.
They have estimated that 3,920,000 people have walked through the installation. The final pieces are going to be hung in several urban locations. What an excellent idea!

Via Colossal

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