V&A Decode

Yesterday I visited the V&A Decode exhibition.

The exhibition describes itself as “bringing clarity to digital information in a visual way”. The brochure explains the three areas that are explored: “Code”, “Interactivity”, and “Network”.

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Yawn. Decode was so lame I can’t even be bothered to write this blog. To say I spent 40 minutes queueing and 10 minutes inside the exhibition would illustrate my point politely. If you want to see creative uses of data, search the Internet. You’ll find hundreds of wonderfully ingenious and beautiful examples. If, however, you want to see data visualisation with all the creativity of ten years ago, this is for you! Decode defines a whole new extreme of missing the boat. It’s out-dated and thoroughly uninspiring. Unless you’re 90 and wondering what all the fuss about “computers” is, you’ll be rolling your eyes and heading for the exit*.

It was rather pathetic really. Several of the monitors were displaying what looked like old school Windows screensavers. The patterns were so abstract who cares if they’re supposedly visualising RSS feeds and “code” from that Internet thing? Where’s the “clarity” in that?

Now that I think about it, perhaps the V&A forgot to turn off sleep mode on their computers…

The interactive stuff didn’t present much to be inspired about either. All the installations came with kids to dance around in front of the sensors and projectors for you (very thoughtful I must say). I stood back and watched as their movements were vaguely translated into… something (with so much lag I was beginning to think I had gone back in time to the 56k modem days). One of the dancing kids summed it up nicely “this ones boring”.

There is nothing at Decode that hasn’t been done many times before, and better. I did get some nice photos though.

* From the entrance you’re taken around a right turn, the exit is straight ahead.

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