Virgin Media has commissioned UVA to ‘explore the themes of communication and modernity’ as part of their 10th year celebrations of broadband. As a concept, UVA explored the material of optical fibre and stripped back – it is essentially a beam of light.
The response to the brief is a series of installations set across six rooms and four floors of a raw industrial space behind the OXO tower in London.
As you enter the space, you are posed a question. You speak your answer into a microphone and your voice is amplified and distorted as it is played back to you. Slightly amused and curious, you climb the stairs into the darkness.
As your eyes adjust, flashes of red laser light race round the edges of the room to create hard edged forms. It’s an impressive visual mixed with sporadic snippets of voices, and you quickly pass to see the same effect in a smaller room outlining a TV, table and a sofa.
The next room appears to have a long reflective channel down the middle, maybe 10 metres long. Red, green and blue lasers at either end are mixed together to form white light and then this light is reflected and scattered back down the length of the installation. All the time snatches of voices (which you now realise are the responses to the earlier question) are syncopated into a heavy bass track and perfectly matched in time with the laser sequences.
It’s mesmerising, thrilling and the sense of the world of conversation passing through light is beautifully represented. My photos do not do this justice in any way.
The next room appears to have a ‘smiley’ face and the concept wasn’t apparent.
The last room is in the loft of the building is a sequence where lasers from different parts of the room converge on single points as they move. Snippets of news and other sounds are mixed together and this piece (although very beautiful) felt more of a showcase for effects than the strong narrative that was represented earlier in the show.
Overall a stunning achievement – technically and in terms of drama and narrative.
The behind the scenes videos are a lovely touch into the revealing processes involved in creating this type of work.
The exhibition is open till April 19th.
More high quality photographs on the Creative Review blog.