Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Review of 'Decode' at the V&A. Go see!

Take a walk in a field of digital flowers that light up as you move through them, interact with Thom Yorke on screen, create your own artwork triggered by sound and take five minutes to sit in front of a camera that will record your photo in a ghost like image before superimposing it with that of someone else.

These are just some of the wonderful exhibits at Decode an exhibition of digital media currently showing at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London.

While the opening pieces just inside the entrance aren't terribly provoking to anyone not too interested in programming or open-source code, the installations get gradually better as one moves through the Porter Gallery. In retrospect, this is probably a strategic part of the exhibition's intent - it lures you in by filling you with the false sense of reassurance that you know what it's all about, only to jump out and surprise you with a shout upon turning the corner.

Decode inspires by reaffirming the relevance of art, its exhilarance and absurdity, in our ever more digitalised, technologised, informational-ised world. Highlights include 'Flight Patterns' by Google digital design heavyweight Aaron Koblin, a beautiful, simplistic visual stylization of flight data recorded from aeroplane journeys over North America throughout a 24-hour period, and 'Tree', an interactive projection piece with branches blowing in response to wind directly outside the museum and shedding leaves that move along the ground as visitors walk amidst them, by Dutch artist Simon Heijdens.

There is a sense of wonder about these pieces were created in the first place but then questions are forgotten as you create a painting just by moving or you make the leaves on a virtual tree fall off just by walking up to it. You also end up having random conversations with strangers - a virtually unheard of phenomenon in any London gallery.

Decode: Digital Design Sensations on show at the Victoria and Albert Museum, Cromwell Road, London SW7 2RL until April 11 2010.

No comments: