Buzzy Barbican builds on its Hackney links

Barbinstallation: Sleeper in Penthouse4C @ Barbican 090813 © david.altheer@gmail.com

THE BARBICAN, the cultural corner of that altar to capitalism, the City of London, has always had a subversive tendency to the weird along with its presentation of concerts of music by long-dead Germans.

The mirror house in Dalston, the latest attempt by the Barbi to build its image with its neighbour, Hackney, was a hit last month July 2013. Now it is presenting Hack the Barbican, which it terms “a collaboration between artists, technologists and entrepreneurs”.

Hackney arty outfit the Trampery, which runs sites at Shoreditch,  London Fields and London Fields, is helping the Barbican to do crazy stuff in the foyers of the Silk Street EC2Y 8DS arts complex.

In the words of its press office, “Foyers will become home to 100 discipline-bending installations, performances, workshops and discussions, a new collaboration between artists, technologists and entrepreneurs…

“Hack the Barbican will see site-specific projects hijack areas of the Barbican’s interior and turn them into games, performances and installations run by theatre performers, computer scientists, sculptors, hardware hackers, teachers, musicians and everything in between.” [Tut-tut, it was reading well until “and everything in between”. At least the press release didn’t also say “anything can happen. And probably will!” — Ed] 

Dalston (Mirror) House Ashwin St Dalston London E8 July 2013 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Getting in the picture: Dalston (mirror) House was a draw, especially with school-holiday parents

The blurb goes on [of course it does]: “The programme will feature coding, soldering, painting and fabrication in specially created hack-spaces in the Barbican foyers while even the Barbican’s publicity screens and audio announcement system may be prone to unusual behaviour.

“Marking a radical departure from conventional arts events Hack the Barbican has been organised without any central curation or commissioning. Taking inspiration from hacker culture the project has been developed over a period of six months through weekly sessions open to everyone.”

You may question just how “radical” a Barbican “departure” could ever be, but undeniably this sounds like fun. And all the projects are, it is claimed, “resourced by their creators acting entrepreneurially”.

The programme includes Penthouse 4C (picture above), a half-size replica of the Barbican Estate’s biggest flat — sorry, apartment —  built in the central foyer; Unmoored, a weather station on the roof beaming data to screens throughout the centre to transform the Barbican into an airship in motion; and the lower level cloakroom becoming the Ministry of Measurement whose bureaucratic functionaries… [Stop right there, that one sounds, uhm, like office stuff.]

Barbinstallation: Sleeper in Penthouse4C @ Barbican 090813 © david.altheer@gmail.com
Snoozer: realistic touch in the apartment mock-up

Charles Armstrong, of the Trampery said: “This is the starting point for Hack the Barbican. Not only is it London’s largest-ever collaboration between artists and technologists, it also tears up the rule book about how a major arts event is organised and resourced.

“Hack the Barbican is a taste of what can happen when we unleash the entrepreneurial energy of a new generation of artists and innovators.” [Entrepreneurial, there’s that word again.] 

Hamish Scott 090813

* Hack the Barbican, Barbican, Silk Street EC2Y 8DS, ends 31 August 2013. 

* The picture at top shows one of the installations. Hang on, isn’t that someone asleep in a corner? See close-up, left

* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.

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