Digital Revolution highlights: Retro tech, virtual butterflies and

Butterflies that appear on a wall after you speak, and retro 1980s gadgets are among the things on display at the Digital Revolution exhibition

03 Jul 2014


An exhibition bringing together the most iconic retro tech with the cutting-edge in digital arts technology has opened in London. 

Visitors to the Digital Revolution exhibition at the Barbican Centre can trace how technology has transformed the digital arts from the 1970s to the present-day.

Check out old-school Apple Macs or play 1980s arcade games before getting involved in some creative computer coding and 3D printing.

Here we'll round up a few highlights from the show.

Google and its virtual butterflies

Dugital Revolution Butterflies


Once seen purely as the pursuit of the biggest of school nerds, computer coding is undergoing something of a renaissance of late.

Coding becomes part of the school curriculum in September, while the creators of Wallace and Gromit recently launched a Shaun the Sheep game designed to help get kids coding. 

At Digital Revolution it is Google pushing to make coding cool. It is presenting Google DevArt, a programme showcasing coding as an art form.

At the DevArt Wishing Wall you'll have the opportunity to create virtual butterflies by merely speaking into a mic. Code recognises the words and transforms them into text. This appears on the wall before turning into a cocoon and then a butterfly.

Steve Vranakis, executive creative director of Google Creative Lab, said the idea is to showcase "developers as artists and coding as a creative discipline with technology very much being this canvas for creativity".


Iconic retro tech

Speak And Spell


People have always swooned over vintage cars, pop culture and fashion - and now retro tech is just as vogue.

There's a whole host of old-school gadgets on display at the Digital Revolution exhibition. See where it all began for Apple with the iconic Apple Macintosh computer.

Grow up in the eighties? Remember how you learned to spell by reacquainting yourself with the iconic, talking Speak and Spell gadget from Texas Instruments (the one with the robot voice). 

Other relics from the 1980s are old-school arcade games such as Pac-Man and Pong - take a stroll down memory lane by having a bash on some retro games, or show the kids how things were in the days before PlayStation and Xbox.  


What's up to?

Will .i .am


The Voice coach is a recognised geek hipster. He's previously said that coding is the new rock and roll and that app developers are artists.

He drew parallels between Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg and John Lennon.

The star's also a director of creative innovation for chipmaker Intel.

And at the Digital Revolution exhibition he has a presence - with a song by him forming the basis of one of the exhibition's installations.

The piece, called Pyramidi, will investigate the ways in which digital and analogue music connect. is working with artist Yuri Suzuki on the project.


What you need to know - key info for visitors

What: Digital Revolution

Where: London Barbican

On until: July 3 - September 14

Find out more here