The Barbican presents visions of a virtual reality future

Interfaces exhibition will see Barbican taken over by a series of interactive projects including fully immersive virtual reality experiences showing how art and tech can mess with our sense of reality.

The Barbican is about to open its doors on a new exhibition which will encourage us to think about how reality can be manipulated by the likes of virtual reality and artificial intelligence.

Interfaces is the work of Fish Island Labs, an incubator project developed over 12 months with contributions from 20 practitioners. It is exploring how art and technology can together play with our sense of reality.

We’ve picked out a few of the exhibits that caught our eye:

Sentient Flux, by Nicola Plant and Alexander Adderley

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This atmospheric virtual reality piece immerses visitors in glowing particles which react to movement. Motion-capture will track users’ movement so they can affect the space around them.

Plant is a movement researcher, artist and programmer and Adderley is a 3D artist, animator and motion graphics designer.

The piece has been conceived and designed as a meditative space focusing on movement.


Roozle Goes to London: A Children’s Travel App, by Fancy Lamp

Interfaces, Roozle Goes To London, Fancy Lamp 02

This game app has been designed to encourage children to explore London via its cultural history.

Roozle, the lead character, embarks on a day out in the game and is encouraged by the user to interact with his surroundings and visit famous landmarks.

Fish Island Labs says that the 2D animated illustrations will appeal to people of all ages.

Fancy Lamp specialises in design, branding and animation.


Data Walking: Transects Through Space as Information, By David Hunter.

Interfaces, Data Walking, David Hunter LOW RES 02

This data capture project is ongoing and has seen volunteers gathering information in the field using micro controllers, smartphones and other devices to create maps, charts, experiential and artistic works.

Quite what is being mapped and what it will show is being kept under wraps until the show.


Nature Abstraction, by Matteo Zamagni

Interfaces, Nature Abstraction, Matteo ZamagniZamagni’s project is a virtual reality installation within a cube.

Wearing VR headsets, audience members step inside the cube where they will encounter mathematical representations of biological forms. Three landscapes can be explored – Birth, Communion and Aether.

Google’s AI tool Deep Dream has also been used to create “morphing psychedelic patterns” that shift from fractals which appear to be man-made constructions to fractals which appear to be organisms.


Veil, by Nicholls and Mbryonic

Interfaces, Veil, Iain Nicholls and Mbryonic

Visual artist Iain Nicholls and creative technology studio Mbryonic have used virtual reality to “subvert the gallery experience” according to Fish Island Labs.

Using VR headsets visitors will be able to look at art within different types of virtual galleries offering “an alternate reality where they can experience art in new and extraordinary ways” organisers say.

Nichols is a fine artist based in Barnsely and Mbryonic create interactive installations working with display technologies like VR, as well as sensor technology and graphics.


Interfaces will be exhibited in the Foyers of the Barbican Centre from 21-23 August, Silk St, London EC2Y 8DS.

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