Decode: Digital Design Sensations at V&A

January 24th, 2010

Decode: Digital Design Sensations

I work at a digital agency in London, we’re one of the biggest in Europe however we’re mostly recognised for the work that comes out of our creative team’s art directors and designers, not so much for big builds that happen in our technology department.

It seems to be a fairly wide spread feeling that programmers, developers, technologists, whatever the coined phrase is these days, aren’t all that creative or artistic.

That’s one of the things that really appealed to me about visiting the new exhibition at the V&A yesterday, Decode. It’s a collection of all digital, some interactive and some not exhibitions that I think really are art, and almost all of them are supposedly by artists that would consider themselves programmers rather than designers.

It only costs £5 to get in, so if you’re even remotely geeky and have 30-60 minutes free then it’s worth popping along to the V&A to have a look (though if you don’t frequent the V&A I’d allow an extra few hours because the rest of the gallery will eat you up with it’s maze of interesting things).

The start of the journey walking through a field of reactive grass was a fun gimmick, a few installations that show programmatic generation of imagery were fairly cool, especially the ones that react to sound, though I didn’t really see that as anything new, how long have Windows Media Player or even Winamp had visualiations for music?

The digital tree projected against a wall that only blows in accordance with the wind speed being measured by a weather station outside the V&A was interesting, as was the giant display of hundreds of videos of people kissing, and some of the more fun interactive colour painting and video recording booths.

Best of all in my mind though was a giant mirror that captures images of the people standing in front of it but displays them in a time-lapse fashion. If you stand still for long enough you get a remarkably clear but eerie image of yourself, when you walk away, you slowly fade away like a ghost past!

Keith raised a very good point though as we were wandering around the rest of the V&A. There are some collections with pieces that are centuries old or more and they amaze with the care, craftsmanship and skill that was taken to make them in their day. In theory digital art should be able to stand the test of time, but will anybody be housing a gallery a century to look back at the digital art produced today?

Anyway, at least today programmers can be happy that their fellow geek-kind have made it into the V&A, let’s see more programmers breaking out of their boxes!


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