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Archaeology enters the digital era with show dedicated to computer arts

New exhibition on the digital world to interest 'anyone with a mobile phone'

Nick Clark
Tuesday 29 October 2013 18:52 GMT
An immersive exhibition at the Barbican will let visitors feel as though they're in Chris Nolan's Inception
An immersive exhibition at the Barbican will let visitors feel as though they're in Chris Nolan's Inception (Warner Bros Entertainment 2010)

Visitors to London's Barbican will be able to step inside Oscar-winning film Inception and experience a sound installation by as part of the "most comprehensive" exhibition of digital creativity to be staged in the UK.

The show, which opens next July, will open with a "digital archaeology" room in which those with nostalgia for the video games of yesteryear will be able to play them on their original machines.

Digital Revolution will explore at how technology has had an impact on art, design, film, music and gaming. The curator said it would interest "anyone with a mobile phone".

Sir Nicholas Kenyon, managing director of the Barbican, said digital was an area the Barbican had "long been at the forefront of championing and programming across the art forms".

Among the most elaborate installations will be that on film special effects, with particular emphasis on Inception, starring Leonardo DiCaprio and directed by Christopher Nolan.

Paul Franklin and his team at British effects house Double Negative won an Oscar for their work on the stunning visual effects.

The display will also look at forthcoming visual spectacular Gravity, whose special effects were carried out by rival firm Framestore.

"It is quite a challenge," guest curator Conrad Bodman said. "We are hoping to get an immersive experience of Inception so you walk in and feel like you're inside the film. We also want to explore the creative process of the effects which most people don't understand."

The site is working with Fifty Nine Productions, the group that designed the acclaimed David Bowie exhibition at the V&A earlier this year.

As well as the current state of visual effects, the exhibition will look to the future of digital – with technology such as virtual reality gaming headset Oculus Rift – and the past.

The "digital archaeology" section will display 100 pieces of software from the 1970s to the present day, running on their original machines.

Games available to play will include Space Invaders on the Atari to Tetris on the Gameboy and Manic Miner on the ZX Spectrum. One of the earliest in the show will be Tennis on the Magnavox Odyssey from 1972.

The exhibition will also include new commissions from artists Umbrellium and Universal Everything, as well as Rafael Lozano-Hemmer and Chris Milk.

The Barbican will hope the exhibition will help emulate the organisation's success of the past year.

"The last financial year was without any doubt, the most successful year ever for the Barbican," Sir Nicholas said.

Fiona Shaw is set to bring her version of Colm Toibin's The Testament of Mary to the Barbican (Paul Kolnik)

Box office takings rose by a third, while attendances on site went over one million for the first time following the success of the Bauhaus and James Bond exhibitions and the Rain Room installation.

The organisation's commercial income also rose by 35 per cent thanks to many initiatives around the Olympics.

"At a time of real challenge to funding, public funding in particular," Sir Nicholas said, "our opportunity has been to use this wonderful, iconic building to increase our commercial income through a range of events."

Other highlights in next year's programme include Fiona Shaw starring in the stage adaption of Booker Prize-shortlisted novel The Testament of Mary by Colm Toibin.

Jean Paul Gaultier will also curate a film season to go alongside an exhibition of his work and there will be a season of music from Michael Caine movies.

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