Tobias Revell on RGBFAQ by Alan Warburton
Tobias Revell discusses the themes and ideas present within RGBFAQ, Alan’s Warburton’s exhibition at arebyte.
RGBFAQ ran from 17 October 2020 – 30 May 2021. It was part of arebyte’s 2020 programme systems.
RGBFAQ comprises a research-led experiential exhibition in which the audience navigates a “black-box” set populated by gigantic geometric sculptures. Warburton’s ambitious new video essay will be projection mapped onto this sculptural background, expanding the form of his popular video essays (Goodbye Uncanny Valley, Fairytales of Motion) into an immersive 3D space, with a soundtrack by David Kamp.
This post-photographic origin story bridges x-rays and z-buffers, radar and Pixar, video games and machine learning, concluding with insights into how synthetic data is changing the nature of vision forever. Informed by the latest development in machine learning and computer graphics, as well as Warburton’s ten years working in animation, RGBFAQ puts viewers inside software, and inside software history.
“My process is like a comedian developing a set, but without the laughs,” says Warburton, who describes this spatial video essay as “a cross between a software tutorial and a ghost train ride that channels an episode of late 80s Tomorrow’s World”
Alan Warburton’s work was most recently seen at Somerset House, where he was an artist in residence until 2019. As part of 24/7, which explored the non-stop nature of modern life, he presented a series of 3D-scanned self-portraits depicting his worktime naps in a visual effects studio in Beijing. Since then, RGBFAQ has been developed as part of Warburton’s PhD at Birkbeck, and has been workshopped around the world (Fiber Festival, Mutek Montreal, Carnegie Mellon, the Victoria and Albert Museum, The Architectural Association and the ICA).
RGBFAQ was Alan Warburton’s first UK solo exhibition.
Tobias Revell is an artist and designer, sort of. Spanning different disciplines and media his work addresses the urgent need for critical engagement with material reality through design, art and technology. Recent work has looked at the idea of technology as a territory, how and through which tools futures are imagined, rendering software, video games and the occult and supernatural in pop culture discussions of technology.
He is Programme Director of Graphic Design Communication at London College of Communication, UAL. He is a founding director of design research consultancy Strange Telemetry, one half of research and curatorial power-brand Haunted Machines and a founding member of Supra Systems Studio. He is a Senior Fellow of the Higher Education and Academy and is currently undertaking a PhD in Design at Goldsmiths.