But is it art…?


Last weekend saw the opening of the exhibition the digital geeks amongst us have been waiting for: The Digital Revolution at The Barbican Centre. A collection of coders, designers, musicians, game developers and artists all were represented, all of whom are pushing the boundaries of their field with the use of digital media.

Standing with headphones on, staring at the incredibly beautiful work from James George and Jonathan Minards in their project ‘Clouds’, it made me think twice about what we even class as art today. ‘Clouds’ is an interactive documentary that uses a data-driven story engine set in real-time, making every experience unique to an individuals response and their own input. By navigating your way through by gesture, it takes you on a wonderful journey through computational designs.

Pieces like this suggest code is at the heart of the new wave of digital art. Coming from an illustration background, I’m one of a wave of artists swapping their paint brushes for wacom pens… will the next step be trading Photoshop for Sublime Text 2?

After playing on Pacman for 20 minutes, feeling nostalgic for the original Sims game and having a photo taken from a 1999 ASCII Camera – I decided to stand to one side and see how other users were experiencing the space. The bigger the screen the more people were drawn to it (e.g Inception explained project), work that you could see yourself in had people queuing in line to have a go, and when music is involved, the kids are there! Most frustratingly, most people – my guess is 80% – didn’t bother to put the headphones on when faced with a screen that obviously required them.

There was one project that stood out to me amongst the rest, the one that sucked me into it’s immersive interface and game-like features for almost half an hour and left my mind rattling with new ideas and concepts. As you come to the end of the DevArt room, there’s a project by Diagne and Lartigue called Les metamorphoses de Mr. Kalia. This is an interactive story piece, a kinect-powered animation that evolves with an individuals body movements. As you stand behind the screen, each movement you make is picked up by the screen. The storyline is left very loose, which leaves you feeling like you are the narrator. We all love feeling involved when it comes to playing games, and the piece had me wondering if this could be a new way of experiencing a theatre show, where the characters appear digitally. The audience could join the cast behind the scenes, and tell their side to the story…I’m working on the details, but surely that’s the point of this exhibition? To inspire crazy ideas and new ways of creating art.