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UVA Untitled LED Sculpture

By Rhizome

Reporting on Friday Late: Transvision.

UVA

One of my favorite pieces from the transvision night was a responsive LED sculpture by United Visual Artists. Installed in the John Madejski Garden, from afar looked like people worshiping the arrival of an alien spaceship, whilst up close you could feel the warmth of all those LEDs. As you approached it, custom camera tracking software detected your presence and reacted by changing the visuals and booming out some granular synthesis sounds through the large speakers. This project created a great atmosphere in the garden and had an aura about it. For a better explanation, watch the video.

Some questions for Joel Gethin Lewis of UVA:

What was the concept behind the piece?
We really didn't want to compete with all the work already in the V&A, but did want to make a comment about the architecture of the space itself. The garden was a natural choice. We choose LED as a display technology because its quality of light. Emissive, rather than reflective. An obviously new thing to contrast against the sense of history evident in the V&A collections.

We also wanted to make a piece that was aggressive and repelled people, one that forced people to engage with the position in the space, and their relation to the monolith.

2001 was also an obvious inspiration!

How does the software work?
Using the latest generation of our in-house software system we linked the LED display, a 2D camera and an audio system. Analysing the live video from the camera allowed us to see the relative position of the closest person to the front of the monolith. In this way we could trigger differing combinations of light and sound.

Did you notice anything about peoples reactions or behaviours that you didn't expect to see?
Crowd control was a major issue. At the beginning of the night, when it was quieter, it was great to see some young kids playing with the system. They have no expectations or fear of technology, so it was great to get un-polluted testing from them. It was also fascinating to see the learning process, how people came up with explanations for the system and how they communicated it to peers. Its always difficult to deal with large groups of people.

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