The historic old Magazine building which is now the Serpentine Sackler has been taken over by German film-maker, artist, writer and digital innovator Hito Steyerl. The rooflights which normally allow daylight to flow down into the spaces have been covered over and the building is now a series of dark spaces where you can make out the brickwork and the timber trusses of the original building, lit with the flickering and changing lights of the Steverl’s different installations linking images and language and asking the viewer to decide what is imagined and what is real, with an overarching theme of power – her thesis being that power (ie control) is a precondition of successful digital technology.
Here there are two themes for power, one is power plants, not those structures along the coast that use coal, gas, nuclear fuel or, increasingly wind generators, to generate the essential electricity our society demands, but the power of plants and the power of humans to come together in Power Walks.
There are two digital experiences running here together. One is Steverl’s core digital exhibition; the other is Ivaylo Getof’s Actually Reality app, which starts outside the gallery. To gain the maximum experience, it is essential for visitors to download the app, and seek support from the many assistants in the gallery, otherwise you don’t gain the full experience, the installation of which has been supported by AECOM.
This is a highly sophisticated and ambitious exhibition, with different themes running through it. There is an accompanying booklet available, which it is worth reading in the café next door before exploring the exhibition itself, or plan to return for a second visit.