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They are the robots

Straight out of Computerwelt to the art world! Po-faced electronic pioneers Kraftwerk are offering a look at their distinctive take on 3D – visitors to Sprüth Magers can see eight of their charmingly creaky concert videos for free until Aug 31.

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Photo by Timo Ohler.

The colossal electronic alchemists are offering up eight of their 3D concert videos in a free exhibit. Are they nifty or mind-numbing?

As devotees and recent festival-goers will be aware, everyone’s favourite krautrock robots have weighed in on the 3D debate – and embraced it, but very much on their own terms, which seems in keeping with the eccentric self-determination that has seen the group make a downright seismic impact on modern music over their 40-year career (even if only Krefelder Ralf Hütter remains from the “original” line-up). Their crowds receive 3D glasses, but classic paper creations rather than the plastic Wayfarers flogged by cinemas, and tune in to a brave new world circa 1982.

This exhibit at Sprüth Magers gives those not lucky enough to catch the quirky quartet in concert a chance to get a generous taste of their live videos, and for free. The exhibit, titled 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8, indeed consists of eight Kraftwerk songs with the accompanying videos.

In terms of presentation, you get what you pay for. Visitors wander in to what can only be described as an art barn – a cavernous room sans air-conditioning with a poured concrete floor and white walls, on the opposite of which are three huge screens. Some try to stay standing for the duration, but most give up and nestle awkwardly into sitting positions on the floor – the screening lasts a full hour.

So what do the band have to say in an hour of three dimensions? Plenty, if nothing too unexpected – nuclear holocaust and the Tour de France get an equal look-in, mostly in shades of panic yellow, their favourite red, or glorious monochrome. The four themselves cameo in full mannequin guise.

The style and themes still fall deliciously between analogue and digital, into the futuristic concerns and wonderfully creaky and exact execution that Kraftwerk do best. It’s somehow heartwarming to see what must be cutting-edge 3D technology and a superlative sound system utilized to send beige VW Beetles and Mercs gliding across the most lo-fi of Flight Simulator Ruhr landscapes, or to create a high-speed train ride that would do Tron proud.

The difficulty is that it’s hard not to imagine how much more fun the films would be to see at a concert – “Techno Pop”‘s repeated mantra “Music… Non-stop” is a beautiful promise heard while dancing on a festival field, but approaches a threat when heard sitting silent on very solid concrete. But surely that’s the point – this exhibition seems to serve both as a generous free sample and not-so-subtle reminder that these films are best enjoyed under the influence of their compellingly po-faced creators.

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 | Sprüth Magers, Oranienburger Straße 18, Mitte, S-Bhf Oranienburger Straße, Tue-Sat 11-18. Through August 21.