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Decode: Digital Design Sensations

Melinda Rackham decodes the sensational world of digital design at London’s V&A.

Decode: Digital Design Sensations


December 17th, 2009

Decode: Digital Design Sensations, currently being shown at London’s Victoria & Albert Museum, explores the sensibility and materiality of moving image and interactive artefacts, through 3 themes – ’Code’, ’Interactivity’ and ’Network’.

Computer language itself has become an increasingly utilised design protocol.

Decode’s exquisite decorative screen and projection works are predominantly crafted in the open source Processing programming environment co-developed by Californian based Casey Reas and Ben Fry early this decade.

Reas’ moving and mesmerising work ’TI’ is installed in the gallery floor with sets of glowing, constantly-evolving fluid surfaces, attesting to both the emotive power of code, and its position as the building block of digital life.

The interactive form allows us to directly affect artwork through human gesture, subtle nuance and reciprocal relationships, and South Korean creative computing group Everyware have produced the exemplary responsive work  – ’Oasis’.

By moving black sand on the ’Oasis’ table we expose a screen where hundreds of tiny grey-scale sea creatures emerge and interact. Cover them with sand and they disappear into the digital depths, resurfacing wherever another pond is created.

This is the perfect plug-in pet – it appears when invited and leaves no mess.

The potential for infinite variability is harnessed by art and design which translates the digital traces of our electronic networks to create pattern, volume and sound.

Fabrica Communications Research Centre (funded by the Benetton Group) in Treviso, Italy, have utilised the ubiquitous network to create a digital clock with difference.

’Exquisite Clock’ is composed of individually crafted and composed images of numbers which are uploaded from around the globe and remixed to display a different set of images each second. 

Decode’s 34 works spread throughout the V & A exquisitely illustrate how artists and designers have been exploring electronic media over the past decades – carefully crafting ephemeral code into fantastic, fun and functional artefacts.

Decode: Digital Design Sensations
Until 11 April 2010 at Victoria & Albert Museum

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