In a digital age where connection possibilities are endless it can be hard to actually ‘feel’ connected. So it was a surprise, that the purchase of my first digital SLR made me feel very much part of the world again. Having a camera in my hand at all times I was now part of the story. Part of the event.
Poor exhibits are upsetting. As is writing the review. You get excited about organising yourself on a quiet Easter weekend, make the effort just to be disappointed. As annoying as flicking through the hundreds of channels on Sky television to find that there is really nothing to watch. That probably is the problem with the Remote Control exhibit. Television has indeed had an enormous impact on our culture but perhaps it is to vast to cram into two small galleries in the ICA.
Since the Internet hit and I embedded myself squarely in its development I have been looking for the next revolution. In the early part of this century I really thought it would be about digital television and convergence. It’s safe to say I was wrong the media world is diverging with new devices and the applications are being built specific to medium. Although I would still love to see fiction story telling cross platforms just like following a friend’s life story via twitter and Facebook on phone and email.
The Remote Control exhibit coincides with the end of analogue broadcasting in the UK ensuring the nation is completely digital. The exhibit It is really an excuse to dust down a few artistic installments rifting on the notion that the television kit is art itself or that content can be re-cut to be installation art. Continue reading
I noticed that the British Library had decided to trawl its vast archive and draw together a Science Fiction exhibition. It sounded phenomenal. A lecture on Lem, J G Ballard and a full exhibition. As I checked in on four square each week, I was surprised that others shared my excitement.
The truth is that this series is perhaps far to intellectual for me or perhaps too focused on the literary geek. I chose the lecture on Lem because I was sucked into a Radio 4 haunting adaptation of Solaris. I read J G Ballard Cocaine Nights when working on a feature film that was never filmed. Both authors have their deep links to film and it was wonderful learning about their lives and work from true fans and in J G Ballard case family.
If anything changed my relationship with Science Fiction then it was the inclusion of the Bronte’s in the main exhibition. Writers, the British Library tells us, have long asked the big questions; What does it mean to be human ? Are we alone ? What is reality ? Is there a perfect world ? and What are we doing to our world ? Apparently everyone has been asking these questions making them Science Fiction writers. In Iliad (850BC) Homer describes how the god Hephaestus created female robots and mechanical tripods. The Bronte’s children created detailed imaginary worlds. Mary Shelley created Frankenstein (1818). Pullman sent Lyra through multiple universe. The exhibit showed these all (including Pullman‘s manuscript).
During the buzz of London 2012 One Year to Go celebrations and my teams very well received competitive tweeting campaign I was introduced to Dr Andrew Hudson-Smith.We loved his teams visualisations of the 1yr2go campaign, so it was with excitement that I tore myself away from work ‘s summer party for my first visit to the London Transport Museum.
London Transport Museum is exquisite. One has to wander through an array of London buses old and new to attend the exhibit. I met Hudson-Smith sheltering in a proposed future bus shelter and he kindly showed me the city scape data visualisations from Carlo Ratti of MIT, Aaron Koblin of Google Creative alongside his own Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis at University College London. Publicised best as ‘beautiful data’.
I found the past future sections the most riveting. Here was a series of images that showed transport of the future as imagined in the past. Robotic driven trains and flying cars.
Most disturbing were the objects that I would once have considered every day. Such as AtoZ or the floppy diskette . The curator of this section was deeply excited by her eBay shopping. Next time, I suggested, she should come over to my house and grab my old technology from the loft. Equally bizarre was the inclusion of a terminology section detailing words such as blog and tweet.
The star exhibit for me was this set of Modern Mechanix magazines. It was also purchased from eBay. I love that every transport on the cover has materialised in some form but doesn’t look nearly as beautiful as these illustrations. I do think we are poorer for not living the alternative universes shown in this exhibit.
Until Sunday 18 March 2012
On invitation by emerging new talent Eleanor Litten I attended the Free Range Exhibition this weekend. London based Eleanor Litten is a Graphiste and Illustrator. She specialises in mixed media illustrations using lino print, and technology such as Adobe Illustrator and Photoshop. Her awesome illustrations compliment any published material. Also she must have the coolest domain name crouching-pencil.org.uk. Her piece in exhibition is a meditative publication. I could easily have spent my time curled up in a corner consuming the illustrations. However that wasn’t an option as this is UK’s largest graduate art and design show and there was a lot to see.
A couple of pieces really caught my attention. Following the the buzz of creating my last film Free Pixel I have to mention John Peters Bamboo Phone. Much has been reported about the material scarcity in mobile technology. To reduce the use of indium and nikel the Bamboo phone uses electronic ink screens and a bamboo case. John Peters is a 3D designer who studied in South Indian International Schools and Cornwall.
The variety of design, architecture, photography, fashion, art and illustration will keep you enthralled, and with so many ideas fully conceptualised you may even find your next recruit or big idea or both.
The first thing I noticed was the space. I had suggested that we meet at the entrance and found that space ran arched around the back of the orchestra pit. As there were two potential rendezvous point my first experience of the show was racing through the elongated round. I felt like the protagonist of a 1980′s cyber film set inside a game.
14 massive projected video games screens and their associated noise kept me company. I really wanted to grab a board and skate through the space with the show on. According to Arcangel’s website “Barbican install was made especially for their crazy big space” so sadly this was one you had to experience in person. Each screen showed a bowling game where the bowler threw a gutter ball each time. We worked backwards starting from games made in 2000′s. By the time we hit games made in the 1990′s the thing that was most striking for me was the varied emotions of the characters on the screen. As we weren’t the player and knew the outcome, it was easy to simply compare screens. The onscreen bowlers were angry, frustrated and sometimes distraught by their awful bowling. One constantly dropped the ball on his foot and was in massive amounts of pain.
There were a relief to hitting the games made in the 1970’s. The emotions had gone and that simplicity of game play was highly watchable. Like extreme sports the quick repetitive nature of these basic games brought through that feeling of the being in zone trance even though we weren’t controlling the games.
Once nudged out of my trance it was the bell shaped arch of realism of the games that struck me. Somewhere in the late 90′s the games were closest to a realistic bowling experience. The pins were reset after each attempt. Other lanes were occupied. The on screen bowler was truly distraught. Early games couldn’t do this. More recent games didn’t bother.
For me the most fascinating thing I wanted to take away and learn was how the games were controlled. Arcangel describes his games as “hacked”. It would be an easy task to film the game as it is played. However Arcangel chose a more complicated approach. Each game was controlled by a chip.
The show moves to NYC is late May and it is worth checking out.