So after roughly 35 years of needing a reason, I eventually visited the Barbican centre at the weekend.
Obviously I’ve known about the place for practically my whole lifetime but never really “got it” before. At first it’s a confusing mass of far-too-much-concrete, a maze of pathways, bridges, alleys and courtyards but once you’re in, and especially inside the main centre, it kind of becomes an experience, not just a venue.
As interesting as it was to explore the seemingly haphazard interior and watch the few performances that were going on on Saturday afternoon, nothing prepared me for what was waiting on the 3rd and 4th floors.
The effect of entering the indoor garden was one of being transported to a dystopian, post-human future, where nature is fighting back against the civilisation that once ravaged it, and winning quite nicely thank you. It’s momentarily like being dropped into the real-world equivalent of Enslaved: Odyssey to the West, but with fewer mechs seeking to extinguish the last remnants of human existence. Even the innocuous name lends itself nicely to a level of such a game: The Conservatory.
That probably isn’t what was intended when it was built. After all that was three-and-some-fraction decades ago, well into the time of nuclear threats and oblivion scenarios but well before such bonkers computer game sci-fi concepts could have been imagined, but it did conjure up those feelings from the moment we passed through the doors. And it did it very well.
Then it occurred to me that maybe my thinking has been altered by playing such games and enjoying such sci-fi journeys for so many years, and thus it felt exciting to be taken there for real for a few moments, at least until the rational-be-sensible brain functions reined in those flights of fancy. But everywhere you look there are (I think) perfect frames of such imaginings, so I tried capturing a few with my iPhone’s camera. Capturing photos with no people in is difficult, but have a look and then decide if I’m on to something, or just mentally skewed…
(it seems something’s gone awry with my blogosphere so until I find out what’s stopping pictures from uploading, these links will hopefully suffice)