[NetBehaviour] "Decode" at the V&A: Digital Reflections and Refractions.
marc.garrett at furtherfield.org
Wed Feb 24 16:18:45 CET 2010
"Decode" at the V&A: Digital Reflections and Refractions.
By Charlotte Frost.
A large installation in the Grand Entrance of London’s Victoria and
Albert Museum clatters away, registering its presence in this historic
hallway. Jointly commissioned (by the V & A and SAP), bit.code (2009),
by Julius Popp, consists of a large panel of black and white blocks
which appear to represent a curious, indecipherable code as they rotate
around their frame. Periodically its units align, clearly depicting
popular terms streamed live from news site feeds. In this physical form
and location, this is real-time made somehow more timely. Looming over
visitors, a literal staging of data being decoded, the work asserts
itself as an apt entry portal to "Decode", the V & A's inaugural
exhibition of contemporary digital and interactive design.
This institution has long been dedicated to collecting and presenting
the myriad manifestations of design, from architecture to textiles. It
therefore seems right and fitting that some of the products of recent
digital design be displayed here too. A lovely detail of this continuity
between objects d’art past, present and future is demonstrated by the
cover of the exhibition catalog. Its decorative ‘wallpaperyness’ seems
to reference the Arts and Crafts movement while looking not dissimilar
to 1960s Op art, and yet there’s no escaping the fact it features a
highly stylized plug motif. This serves to reinforce the digital as the
mode du jour, as well as making it clear this is somewhere it should
feel rightfully at home. And such eager hospitality allows the show to
occupy not just the Porter Gallery, but other parts of the V & A and
South Kensington locale.
The exhibition has been arranged under three closely intertwined themes:
Code, Interactivity and Network. Though they serve as reminders of the
characteristics of the work, there is too much over-lap between these
terms for works to actually be ordered according to such categories. In
more literal terms, therefore, you first encounter small, mainly
screen-based, code-driven works before arriving in a playground of
large-scale interactive installations, with the pieces categorized as
‘networks’ sitting in between. However, given that a great number of
works within the selection (made by the V & A and partner curators
onedotzero) reference mirrors, a clearer – though unofficial – theme
might be that of ‘reflection’.
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