Tag Archives: digital art

Industrial Revolution 2.0 at the V&A, Design Week 2011

Passing through the statue hall in the V&A, I did a double take. This statue had been plonked next to the familiar classical permanent ones. Looking at it, it seemed to have a theme of modern notions of beauty – fashion accessories floated from the bust’s hair. The presence of the bust was a good touch to the V&A’s collections during Design Week.

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Curtain Call

We spotted Ron Arad on Sunday afternoon at his new installation at the Roundhouse. (He’s the one in the hat.)

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You know those interactive screens with funny effects that are cool now?

They had one in the Science Museum recently, near the genetics exhibition. They’ve had them at the V&A during the fantastic DeCode exhibition and there was one at Kinetica Art Fair. You move and you watch a colourful you mirror your movements with a time delay, or watch yourself become three yous and gradually disappear, or your hands become monsters… there are all sorts of fun things people are doing with cameras and displays these days.

One company that makes these sorts of things is Quadratura, you should check them out.

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Kinetica Art Fair

I volunteered for a few days at Kinetica Art Fair. It was a pretty good international collection of ‘kinetic art’, much of which made use of some new interesting technology. There were holographic film screenings and sculptures which, when touched, would emit a buzzing sound – like this one.

Echidna II by Tine Bech.

Mike Blow‘s piece was a series of small speakers with water on them. They would make very low sounds that would make ripples in the water. I couldn’t help imagining what a band would sound like – different speakers for different instruments. The bass would make one kind of ripple in the water and drums would make ripples of different shapes at different times… it’s another way to visualize music. How do deaf people experience music? …but his art didn’t go that far.

Quadratura screen. Each person was recognised as a different colour. Viewers could ‘make their own painting’. There was a delightful time delay – one expects everything digital to be instantaneous so it’s refreshing to have something a bit mixed up.

Heartbeat handbag. The handbag was the same age as the artist, and was moving in time to her recorded heartbeat.

Monomatic: Nick Rothwell and Lewis Sykes. Modular Music Box. The bit I like is how you wind it up, and then the lights fade one by one along the circle around the winder as it winds down. Not very impressed by the modular ballerina in the mirrors really – you can really tell this was designed by men. It was unfortunate that the delicate sounds the box made were drowned out in the context of the art fair; one had to put their ear right up to the speaker.

TheĀ Cabaret Mechanical Theatre lived in my childhood memories of Covent Garden… until this month! Finally I had loads of automata to play with again. You could even go so far as to say that the automata in Covent Garden contributed to me wanting to be a designer – it helped spark my interest in making physical things work. I was so sad when their shop closed. At least my little brother got to see their stuff in the fair. They’ve done a lot of new stuff, they’re worth checking out occasionally for playful design. This one was on sale in the shop:

And this one was a minature version of the collapsing chair I saw in Milan 2010… or was it Tent or something in London 2009? Can’t quite remember.

Madi Boyd: a particularly interesting installation piece. You enter a dark space, with what seems to be a screen with a grid on it at one end. As you approach, you see that the grid is in fact layers of grids spaced out. Then you realise it’s not a screen, it’s mirrors and… lasers? No… it’s something being caught in the light shining from the back of the installation… you reach out to touch it, and it’s in fact string – cotton string and nylon string gridded across the space. The light moves and creates different, hypnotizing patterns, that seem to go on infinitely with the mirrors.

Seeper: Interactive MultiTouch Sphere. (Their title, not mine… that midway capitalization seems a bit dated, doesn’t it?)

Poietic: iPhone controlled floating balls. I was holding the iPhone, and when someone came and stared and didn’t understand what the installation was, I told him to blow, and I made the balls rise… ‘blow harder!’… they went up higher. When he waved his arms to stop, I made them drop. That was pretty fun. Hope he found out how it really worked later… or maybe it’s better to keep it magic. Another time, I pretended that I was moving the balls by hovering my hand over the top of individual ones… didn’t work so well though, you kind of need an audience who doesn’t know how it works for that kind of game to be successful.

Middlesex University. Darren was a sweetie. The vase moved around the table when it detected motion. It would come towards you and lean forward out to you… sometimes over-enthusiastically and then would fall.

Pe Lang is an artist who, to be honest, doesn’t really appeal to me that much. What I found interesting was that his girlfriend is his business partner. I talked to her about design duos and marriage – can it work? Dunne and Raby, the Azumis… it seems like an intense lifestyle. You’d never get time apart from one another. Bet that would kill the romance. You’d have to really really love each other and be patient. She said that one must compromise. Since his work is what’s working out right now, she loses out on her music side. They do joint music and art work, but haven’t recently because he is so busy with his own projects. That doesn’t sound fair to me.

Anyway, I got a lot out of being a volunteer here. It was quite an unpleasant exhibition design – it was hot, unventilated, noisy, and there was terrible lighting too – an interior architect’s nightmare. But the exhibition pieces themselves were interesting and worth seeing.


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