A crowd gathers as a woman standing on a plinth points a mobile phone up to the ceiling of the Information Age gallery. In her other hand is a cable, connected to a device which produces a mesmerising electronic sound. The sound changes in pitch and frequency as the woman and her performance partners make careful movements as if playing a musical instrument. Above people’s heads a faint chorus of voices can be heard, while the light beacons on the ceiling twinkle.
This ‘sound art’ performance by Professor of Media Computing at Goldsmiths, Atau Tanaka and his team is a musical interpretation of a new art commission for the gallery, Fiducial Voice Beacons by BAFTA award winning artist Rafael Lozano-Hemmer.
The performance was one of the highlights of the November Lates evening, which was designed around the theme of information and communication technology to celebrate the new Information Age gallery. The subject matter certainly seemed to capture people’s imagination, drawing in a crowd of 3,728 visitors to the Museum and providing a perfect close to our 2014 programme.
In an evening that managed to squeeze in 200 years of technological innovation into just over three hours, visitors were invited to hear Iain Logie Baird’s account of the first ever outdoor public broadcast by the BBC – the famous Nightingale broadcast of 1924 and the innovative microphone that made it possible. Elsewhere, Morse code and jewellery lovers could combine their interests to make special bracelets. Visitors exploring Information Age were encouraged to share their new pictures for a new Wikipedia page on the gallery too.
Those after a hint of nostalgia were drawn to a traditional looking telephone box supervised by BT, where people could enter the booth for photos to take away as personal mementoes of the evening.
Meanwhile, on the second floor others were excited by the prospect of being able to handle iconic mobile phones from the 1980’s whilst browsing around the Information Age gallery and enjoying curators’ talks and drama character performances.
Keen readers were challenged to take part in Accenture’s fun speed-reading game and could even record their voice on Wikipedia in a separate test.
One of the 21st century’s latest milestones – the quest to explore Mars, was represented by the ExoMars Rover Bridget, where visitors were invited to meet the team from Airbus Defence who built her and ask questions about their work.
How old were you when you first went online? Have you ever been dumped by text message? These were the questions that generated a wall full of post-it notes as visitors of all ages were eager to share their memories of the two single technological milestones that unite almost all of us.
The next Lates evening will be on Wednesday 28 January 2015 and will look at the incredible world of engineering.You can find out more on our website.