One of my fondest childhood memories is Tetris – a Soviet tile-matching puzzle game, which has incidentally turned 30 this year. I have heartwarming memories of playing Tetris in the school yard on my Nintendo, humming away its theme song to myself while starting at the screen transfixed.
Those were the years of Commodores, Ataris and Gameboys and I still remember the overpowering sense of pride when I wrote my first BASIC program. CLS
A lot of things have changed since then but if you want to take a trip down memory lane, you can visit the Digital Revolution exhibition at the Barbican, in London. As the name suggests, this one is for the lovers of all things digital, HCI enthusiasts, retro gamers, computer geeks, techies, to pretty much anyone who has an interest in digital technologies or enjoys an interactive and immersive exhibition.
Digital revolution is a celebration of the creativity that we have witnessed over recent decades, and showcases how digital technology has influenced artists, musicians, designers, game developers and filmmakers.
Digital Revolution Trailer
I visited last weekend and when I first walked in, it felt like I was stepping into an amusement arcade from the 80s. Sensory overload with sounds and visions that took me back to my childhood.
The Digital Archaeology section is the first in the series of sections and looks back at the history of digital technology, displaying the first computers, early video gameconsoles and vintage arcade games, from the 1970s onwards. It is packed with technology archive delights, a Commodore PET, Photoshop tablet predecessor, Nintendo’s Game and Watch, and you can even have a go at the original game of PONG!
The next couple of sections are dedicated to exploring how time, space and narrative can be re- imagined using digital tools and looks at how visual effects are used in films such Inception and Gravity.
Gesture control and camera technologies are also explored in the State of Play section, which allows visitors to use their whole body (below, left image), through an installation with interactive shadow play. Controlling it with your arms, you can use its reactive wing to become a bird a fly away (below, left image). This was by far the most exciting installation- it yes- it is even worth queueing for!
Sound and control is another section of the exhibition that showcases the impact of imaging technologies on the way we experience sound and you get to see a 6ft tall 3d animated version of Will.I.am’s head following you around the room while singing a track that has been specifically written for the purpose of this exhibition.
I could go on but I don’t want to give too much away and there are tons more exciting pieces of technology you get to play with but you should discover these yourself. Make sure you allow yourself a lot of time for this, especially if you are planning to interact with every single technological artefact.
Overall, this exhibition is great fun for anyone who enjoys digital creativity- I thoroughly enjoyed both the nostalgic parts of it as well as the sections that explored the endless possibilities for the future of creative computing.
The exhibitions runs at the Barbican in London until the 14th of September 2014.
Don’t miss it!