julia schulz-dornburg

arquitecto

Salón Digital. CCCB, Barcelona

SALÓN DIGITAL  (digital showroom) was a touring exhibition showing 130 computer-generated art works in two or three dimensions (photos, drawings, sculptures and installations), projected works (shorts and animations) and a selection of virtual works on the Internet. The great variety of works and techniques was one of the exhibition's strengths, although a clear imbalance in the presentation of physical and virtual works could be detected. Physical objects made up 35% of the works on display (occupying roughly 80% of the space available) whereas the virtual works were shown in much smaller and relatively unsophisticated areas (e.g. a table with four computers). The exhibition design tried to compensate this imbalance between appearance and format of the works displayed. Given that the space devoted to a work tends to reflect its artistic value, we decided to divide the number of linear gallery metres in equal parts, regardless of whether the work displayed was of a visual or a physical nature.
The same amount of space was allocated to each work, but the means of contemplating them differed in every case. Paintings had to be viewed standing up while computer screens needed to be seen from a sitting position. Projected works, on the other hand, required a comfortably seated audience. These ergonomic needs determined three different spaces: a conventional exhibition space with works hung on the walls, a computer gallery in which viewers could contemplate virtual art from large communal seating sculptures, and projection rooms which provided all the comfort and atmosphere of a cinema.
We considered that digital works required a sculptural and tactile treatment to lend a sensual dimension to the virtual world, which is all too often confined to grey plastic computer monitors. Accordingly we adopted warm colours, sinuous forms and soft surfaces which invited visitors to tarry a while and delve into the screen content. The size and layout of displays were designed to convert online viewing into a social event.