Dynamic light: United Visual Artists
by Alessandro Trabucco
As like as in the musical shows of the Massive Attack, mentioned in the first part, also in autonomous projects, with the creation of a part of the work through the staging of a “behaviour” of the work, that switches on right because of the passing of a person or simply the physical presence in the adjacent space to it.
Like the Monolith work, dated 2005, a block 3 meters high composed by LED and located in the John Madejski Garden of the Victoria & Albert Museum in London, a minimal shape in sharp contrast with the baroque structure of the Museum. The simple human presence makes instantly change relaxing lights and sounds to louder tones and intensity, symbolic expression of a change in temperament and strength inside it.
The same occurs, in wider dimensions, with the installation called Volume, dated 2010, always placed in the garden of the V&A Museum in London as natural development of Monolith and then exported to other sites, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Melbourne and St Petersburg. In this case, UVA created a tidy forest of luminous columns of LED giving out sounds answering to the movement itself of the visitors, activated by some sensors. In this way, each visitor can create an own audio/luminous journey according to the program set in each column. The biggest the number of visitors is (creative Director Matthew Clark expressly speaks about “group experience”), the more complex the springing melody will be. They are especially hypnotic sounds, right similar to those of the historic minimal music of the Seventies, Terry Riley, Steve Reich, La Monte Young, Tony Conrad.
The use of the light is predominant just because of the emotional involvement it produces in people, Clark uses the metaphor of the moth that is attracted to the light bulb, to describe this fascination of the light towards the audience, who is always invited to converse with the works.
The most evident aspect of the UVA installations is the perfectionism of each constituent element of the installation, the care of the technological and formal (in positive sense) aspect, almost always necessarily minimal and essential.
Another interesting work to examine is Momentum, installation placed in the space The Curve of the Barbican Centre in London. Also in this case, light, sound and movement are perfectly integrated in the creation of a total immersive experience. The work takes its origin from the experiment done with the Foucault pendulum to demonstrate the Earth rotation. In this case, UVA put in relationship the mechanic movement with the natural one, through 12 luminous objects oscillating simultaneously. The evocative location predisposes the observer to an experience of particular sensorial involvement, especially when the oscillations have slight phase displacements capable of altering their perception, not only visually but also physically, given the bendy shape of the space.
The group works to temporary projects as well as to permanent installations, studying, especially in the latters, the specific technical features in order to overcome the objective difficulties of an unlimited exhibiting duration of materials anyway perishable and necessarily in need of constant maintenance.
Another very interesting characteristic, especially from the human point of view, is the wish of Matthew Clark, whose son is affected by a serious form of autism, to achieve projects suitable for people with physical, sensorial and communicating disabilities, fulfilling the development of technologies that overcome the pure artistic perception, referring the duty of the art to higher ethical values, other than purely aesthetic.
Photo credits: United Visual Artists