Momentum, a new immersive art installation by United Visual Artists, opens today at the Barbican in London. Featuring a series of sound-and-light emitting pendulums, the work transforms the Curve gallery into a kind of space-age temple…
The 12 hanging objects offer the only source of light in the space and swing rhythmically, casting shadows and rays through the smoky atmosphere. An abstract soundtrack emanates from each of the swinging forms, and every few minutes the objects go still and the light and sound subtly changes direction. Despite the darkness, the atmosphere in the space is peaceful, meditative almost.
As UVA’s Matt Clark explains in the film above, Momentum is intended to “mess with your perception of both time and physical space”. The work is designed to feel like a ‘natural’ experience, though features intensely high-tech elements custom made by the artists, including 3D printed acoustic chambers within each of the pendulums. As Clark explains, it is this tension between the natural and the synthesised that the artists are interested in exploring in the work.
Barbican’s Curve gallery has built a reputation for exhibiting experimental and often experiential artworks in the unusually shaped space, from Song Dong’s Waste Not, where the artist exhibited a life-time of objects collected by his mother, to Tomas Saraceno‘s video installation, which turned the walls of the gallery into a panorama of clouds. UVA’s work is perhaps most akin to the immensely popular Rain Room, created by Random International in 2012. While that piece, where it rained inside the gallery but not on visitors, allowed only five people in the space at one time and had large queues, this will hopefully avoided here as the exhibition offers access to over 40 visitors at a time.
All images © Bethany Clark/Getty Images, courtesy Barbican Art Gallery
UVA have also become renowned for creating unique, absorbing installations. In 2006, they created Volume for the John Madjeski Garden at the V&A, which featured a display of light columns, and more recently they exhibited High Arctic at the Maritime Museum in Greenwich. That work featured an elaborate arctic ‘landscape’ constructed with sculpture and light, alongside interactive artworks. While good fun, there was an educational aspect at the core of High Arctic, with visitors encouraged to consider the dramatic changes to the region.
Momentum, by comparison, is a more minimalist piece, with the emphasis placed squarely on the viewer’s experience. The work is hypnotic and absorbing, and not entirely done justice by the photographs and video here: this is one artwork that really should seen for itself.
Momentum is at the Barbican Curve until June 1, more info can be found at barbican.org.uk.