Tuesday, September 25The Voice of London

Tate Lates: Weird or genius?

After a build-up of excitement in anticipation of the event, the Tate Modern had its first in a series of Lates — the Voice of London reports on it for you.

Reporter: Cecilia Peruzzi | Sub-Editor: Yasmin Jeffery

Movement Alphabet translucent pod
Movement Alphabet translucent pod I (All images by Cecilia Peruzzi)

Friday marked the first of many Uniqlo Tate Lates. The renowned modern art gallery has partnered with the Japanese High Street fashion brand to give its visitors a fun and new way of experiencing art. From exhibitions to workshops, music, drinks and food, nothing was left behind.

Each month’s Late will celebrate a different theme or collection — Friday night’s focused on modern technology. The first after-hours event gave visitors the chance to participate in special workshops and talks, even offering deals on their ongoing exhibitions as an added bonus — patrons were urged to “make a night of it” and see both Georgia O’Keeffe and the EY Exhibition for just £28. Seeing as Tate Modern exhibitions can be quite pricey, these nights are definitely a good chance to see world-class artwork for a bargain.

From 6pm onwards, Tate Modern employees dressed in specially-made Uniqlo T-shirts milled around the gallery giving out event guides and directions. Tours included a small introduction on the month’s theme, ticket, food offers and a list of all the talks and workshops taking place during the event.

While the majority of the workshops were held in free spaces across different floors of the Switch House, the main music and visuals — programmed by NTS Radio —  were staged in tanks where French artist Philippe Parreno is currently exhibiting a choreography of sound, lighting, flying objects and film.

Expectations for the event were quite high, with hundreds of people showing up to take part. However, not everybody seemed to think the Tate Modern did a good enough job; many visitors were confused as they expected a lot more to take place, and were slightly let down by the poor choice of activities, such as the Gif Us Zines workshop.

Visitors making collages for the Gif Us Zines workshop

While the workshop did look quite interesting on paper — participants were told they would be creating a paper sequence that would then be turned into a gif — it was quite boring. The novelty of cutting black and white pictures out to stick on concertina zines in collage mode subsided after the first five minutes, and the end result was far from desirable.

When visitors were told the team would be scanning zines and turning them into gifs, they expected something more than members taking pictures of different zines with their phones and turning them into gifs with an app. Might as well have done it at home; at least the picture choice would have been more vast and colour printed.

The gallery set up the Hackoustic exhibition next to the Gif Us Zines workshop, which comprised a group of hackers dedicated to exploring acoustics. A slew of acoustic cables were exposed in spider web mode so participants could move them around to see the difference this would make to the acoustics.

However, the space given to the hackers was so small that just one or two people could take part at a time, and most visitors were not willing to wait in line to move a few cables around.

Hackoustic hackers explore acoustics

A lot of people were excited about getting to the fourth floor, where Movement Alphabet — an interactive artwork that combines generative visuals with live one-to-one performances — was taking place.

Once there however, visitors were disappointed to find a translucent pod where only two could enter at a time. Long crowds meant a long wait, and those patient enough to hang about were only rewarded with images created by their physical gestures.

On a more positive note, many visitors were tempted by the delicious Tate Modern cocktail, created for the event and subject to a 2-for-1 offer in all bars. Overall however, the event was quite a disappointment to most.

One young man summarised it perfectly when he said: “This exhibition is weird. Let’s go see some other exhibition that isn’t as boring. I wanna see some Picasso again.”

Better luck next month, Tate Lates.