Interfaces exhibition at Barbican: a virtual reality

A Walk from Hackney Wick to the Barbican Yasmine Dainelli

A Walk from Hackney Wick to the Barbican Yasmine Dainelli - Credit: Archant

Anna Behrmann talks to Yasmine Dainelli ahead of a new showcase of Hackney digital artists

In the first group showcase of digital artists from East London, traditional craftsmanship and new technology fuse together.

The up-and-coming artists, who belong to Fish Island Labs, a creative hub in Hackney, are playing with painting, engraving and virtual reality at the Barbican’s Interfaces exhibition.

Yasmine Dainelli, a Florentine artist living in Seven Sisters, is exhibiting her piece, A Walk from Hackney Wick to the Barbican, where visitors are invited on an imaginary stroll, passing along the dark side streets of Bow, Whitechapel and Spitalfields.

Trained in fine art and printmaking, Dainelli describes her work as a “symbolic walk” through east London, combining chalcography with a video installation. Traditionally, chalcography involves engraving on copper or brass, but in this case, Dainelli has worked with transparent perspex, allowing video images to be projected on the surface.

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“I want the people who see my work to feel as if they are inside it,” she says. “Everything is at eye level. The chalcography stays static, but everything else moves. I want people to feel the movement and the changes of the city.”

Dainelli has been immersing herself in east London for three years, walking between Hackney and the Barbican. “I was there for weeks and weeks; hours and hours. My work is really based on the emotionality of the place. When I was doing all this etching, I met people and they started to talk to me about the area and how it’s changed.”

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Highlighting historical moments, such as the suffragettes movement in Bow, the installation also captures more subtle changes, projecting the old city next to the new.

Dainelli wants to show the changes which have been taking place in the last few years, including the gentrification of east London.

“Before it was full of artists. Now there are clubs, people go there for fun. They’re converting buildings into flats.”

The 28-year-old is part of the Magma Collective, a group of eight collaborating artists exhibiting their work at Interfaces. In their Mnemonic City project, they explore the area between Swan Wharf and the Barbican, focusing on a city formed of people and their memories.

But other artists invited to take part at the Barbican exhibition are exploring memories far closer to home. Annie Nichols, who originally trained as a chef and a cookery writer, has created an installation inspired by her late mother’s Victoria Sponge cake.

She has recorded the sounds of herself making the cake, following a handwritten recipe inherited from her mother. Visitors can walk around a carefully-constructed light installation of the kitchen, and listen to homely sounds of a cake being prepared and baked.

If cake baking and city mapping have anything in common, perhaps it is the way in which artists are allowing tradition to walk hand in hand with change. Dainelli says that the combination of chalcography and video technology in her installation reflect these themes. “It’s a reminder of something which is historical, with something that is happening now.”

Interfaces is running at the Barbican August 21-23

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