Text description provided by the architects. To visit an exhibition is to make a journey through a landscape of new information and experiences. The aim of the exhibition is to inform and inspire with an unfolding story through ideas over time. Opened in May 2019, the Barbican’s major new exhibition has been designed by Architects Tonkin Liu. AI: More than Human is an unprecedented survey of creative and scientific developments in Artificial Intelligence, exploring the evolution of the relationship between humans and technology. Part of the Barbican’s 2019 Life Rewired season exploring what it means to be human when technology is changing everything, the exhibition tells the rapidly developing story of AI.
Tonkin Liu’s exhibition design, Mist, Mirror, and Megaliths, choreographs a journey through the touchstones of events in time, an allegorical journey through the mist in a boundless expansive space. Utilizing hung fabric screens, mirrored walls, and floating artifact megaliths cabinets, the spatial sequence offers the visitor an immersive journey through this iconic gallery. The Curve gallery of the Barbican is a familiar space to London’s exhibition-visiting public. A very long single sweeping curve give the gallery its name and its strongest memorable characteristic. To reset the visitors’ conscious memory, the space is transformed and expanded with illusion, transporting visitors to an infinite, otherworldly place beyond the walls of The Curve.
A family of undulating white diaphanous screens, made of theatre scrim cloth, sweep through the curved space of the gallery. The screens create distinct spaces, tailored to suit different environments and the thematic zones within the exhibition. Coiling, hanging, curving inwards and outwards, dynamically lit from within and from without, the screens vary in form, geometry, proportion, and transparency to create a sequence of animated spaces. The screens form routes, rooms, and views through the exhibition, drawing visitors forward.
All surfaces of the existing gallery are finished in matt black and both sides of the 6m tall gallery are mirrored. At a low level, a mist manifestation on the mirror obscures the visitor’s eye-level view of themselves. At a high level, above the mist projections onto screens in the plane of the mirror create a sea of floating moving images that are reflected in the infinite blackness. The moving colored light of the projected content can be seen through the mist-like full height screens that articulate the unfolding un-folding journey into the future of AI.