UVA: Speed of Light opens

We’ve been following the production of Speed of Light, an ambitious laser light installation by United Visual Artists for Virgin Media. The show is now open and it doesn’t disappoint

Over the past few weeks, we’ve been following the production of Speed of Light, an ambitious laser light installation by United Visual Artists for Virgin Media. The show is now open and it doesn’t disappoint

UVA were commissioned by Virgin Media to create ‘an immersive light installation celebrating 10 years of broadband in the UK’. It comprises a series of laser-based experimental light works which flow through the labyrinthine spaces of the Bargehouse, the four-storey ex-warehouse on London’s South Bank.

On entering the space, visitors are asked to speak into a suspended microphone to answer questions displayed on the wall in front of them. Their answers follow them around the building as they explore the various installations over four floors.

These sounds and others, as well as light, are carried around the building using fibre optics, thus tying in with the broadband theme. See a video of the installation here

On the first floor, is probably the most explicitly client-related piece in which lasers describe the outline of a TV set, coffee table and sofa in a living room.

Visitors’ previous answers affect a giant laser-generated icon at the end of the next room – positive responses producing a happy face, negative ones a sad one.

The things get more abstract, and interesting. A spectacular light show runs the length of one room, reacting to sampled sounds, the multicoloured lasers made vibrant by the water-based haze pumped into the room – think dry ice.

The final room is more of a performance piece than an installation. Four large lasers, one on each corner of the room, react to the soundtrack of visitors’ replies plus news feeds and archive audio.

A company like Virgin Media, with a corporate anniversary to celebrate, would perhaps in the past have settled for spending the money on a TV ad. Thankfully, with the aid of UVA and PR company Borkowski it has gone for something much more ambitious and memorable. Interesting too that it is a project that has come via a PR company rather than an ad agency – a sign of things to come?

This is a really beautiful piece of work – highly reommended.

Our previous posts on the project are here, here and here

Speed of Light is at the Bargehouse, Oxo Tower Wharf,  Bargehouse Street, South Bank, London, SE1 9PH, from April 9 to 19.

All photographs by Tom Oldham

  • I was lucky enough to go see the installation at opening night. Very good indeed — loved the atmosphere as you work your way up through the building and the installations as they build up intensity. A must see.

  • pictures look amazing, and probabaly 100x more amazing in person!

  • blank

    UVA please start ding more interesting projects soon, you’re getting a little fat and far to predictable. This is no Olafur Eliasson.

  • Rik Moran

    Well worth a visit. I went on Sunday and might well go back. A great space for something like this, the musty bargehouse interior provides a great contrast to the lasers.

  • Can’t wait to see it with my own eye :)

  • I’ve organized a trip for my creative department to go on Friday, cannot wait.

  • Yup, I like it!

  • Another light treat after the West Pier, Brighton installation.
    Bip

  • Robert Shaw

    I made a 7-hour round trip to see “Speed of Light” on Sunday. The Bargehouse was an excellent, slightly eerie, setting. The most compulsive installations for me were to be found immediately after the microphone room after the entrance and then the final piece on the top floor. The mixing of visitors’ voices with the electronic blip and fuzz soundtrack worked well and sound quality was very good. I seemed to spend much more time in the building than most visitors and watched a few of the programmes (all relatively short) several times over. Even so, I was probably in and out in 45 minutes. Can’t help feeling it could have been better had it been longer. That being said, it was well worth the visit and well done to Virgin Media for commissioning the event and UVA for presenting it so well.

  • Robert Shaw

    I made a 7-hour round trip to see “Speed of Light” on Sunday. The Bargehouse was an excellent, slightly eerie, setting. The most compulsive installations for me were to be found immediately after the microphone room after the entrance and then the final piece on the top floor. The mixing of visitors’ voices with the electronic blip and fuzz soundtrack worked well and sound quality was very good. I seemed to spend much more time in the building than most visitors and watched a few of the programmes (all relatively short) several times over. Even so, I was probably in and out in 45 minutes. Can’t help feeling it could have been better had it been longer. That being said, it was well worth the visit and well done to Virgin Media for commissioning the event and UVA for presenting it so well.

  • Would love to see it here in São Paulo – Brazil.

  • This looks amazing! Really want to go and see it!!
    Thanks for posting.

  • Brilliant. I really wish I could experience the light installation in person. The pictures look amazing.

  • Bravo!

  • Tom Strother

    RAD!

  • I guess this might not be a for migraine-sufferers. But a hedonistic joy for the rest of us Phosphorus, fire-starting, mesmerised-by-light types who might need to be physically removed from this installation.

  • kelcey

    Glad to see the companies used there money to make something different then a television ad and create amazingly interesting art piece. I love this installation and wish I was able to see it in person. Im sure it was mesmerizing!

  • That’s Amazing!
    Unfortunately, i live in Brazil and cannot see this show personally. But i enjoyed on the video.

    Thanks for posting it! =)

  • Most spectacular light show, the video of the installation is pretty good.

  • All hail to the brilliant minds of UVA for finding another use of laser lights. They really put on some show there and they have elevated the disco lights sole purpose and bring it to its next level of its evolution, hahaha, great job! Now party animals have more reason to stay out late at night.

  • I’d really like to see one of these shows. Last time I had the opportunity was way back when I was a kid. They had a laser light show at Stone Mountain in GA. Very cool…wish I could see it again.

  • Sam

    Looks absolutely amazing, I wish I could have seen it!