Richard Lutz enters the digital world of new tech artists.
We decide to leave our typewriters and Brownie Instamatics safely at home for this show – it’s about how art has been influenced and aided by new technology. Y’know, things like computers and stuff.
Seems that those cheeky creatives have been putting away the coloured pencils and paintbrushes for some time now and working with computer animation, video loops, digital graphics and gaming technology. The outcome is a gallery full of fun- and some danger in this new programme called I Want, I Want at Birmingham’s Gas Hall.
We head first to a giant wall screen that initially resembles the good old Space Invaders video game – remember that one…seems ages ago. But we’ve been fooled. Our zapper controls the spaceships alright in this work by artists Thomson and Craighead. But we’re not destroying aliens, rather an erudite essay from pointy-head philosopher Michel Foucault called What is an A uthor?
I wipe out the tome – all nine levels of it. Words tumble, phrases eradicated, whole sentences shattered. I may not have eliminated an evil intergalactic fleet but I’ve demolished, it seems, an impenetrable tract.
The title of this show comes from a William Blake space travel fantasy. An engraving from this 1793 story greets you in the Gas Hall entrance. And it leads to a big room of delights.
Just beyond Blake’s work is a continuous animated computer film called This is Fiona (see above). Julian Opie, who did the 2000 album cover for Blur: Best Of, has created a digital portrait of a friend that winks, blinks, raises an eyebrow and smiles at you as you watch her – a happy little piece that puts a smile on your face.
Another winner further on: A triple screen video installation by Paul Pfeiffer. The trio of clunky monitors shows footie players- gawd, our heroes – taking fraudulent dives on the pitch. Each one seems to perform a gargantuan Jacques Cousteau for us. It’s part circus act, part comedy hour. Gosh, and we got their strips last Christmas as gifts too. Number seven in the red shirt is a cheat. And, hey, number six in the yellow jersey took a tumble and started crying. Big overpaid babies, all of ‘em…
We amble through the hall, delicately avoiding one behind a curtain that displays nudity and robots. Shan’t be seeing that one. Well…. maybe later…second time around.
I Want! I Want! is on until 1st October. And it’s free.