United Visual Artists is a London-based group of engineers, artists, and designers who create technologically sophisticated light displays. The group's work has appeared at museums, galleries, concerts, and dance performances around the world. Shown here is the light sculpture Volume , commissioned by London's Victoria and Albert Museum.
Volume consisted of a grid of 46 LED columns, each 2.5 meters tall and equipped with its own speaker. An infrared camera mounted above the installation tracked visitors’ positions relative to the columns.
Visitors were encouraged to walk through the Volume installation, and when they did each column’s music and lights would change. Because visitors weren’t told exactly how their presence altered the display, many would start to experiment—running their hands over the columns, jumping up and down, and stamping their feet.
UVA’s first project was to create the stage design and visuals for the 2003 world tour of the band Massive Attack. A giant LED screen at the back of the stage became a digital information display, rendering information about natural phenomena in a range of physical scales—from subatomic particles to constellations.
Audiences at the Massive Attack shows were treated to real-time information, including the day’s headlines translated into the local language, stock prices, weather reports, soccer scores, and messages from other fans.
To create a music video for the band Battles, UVA positioned a triangular grid of vertical LED columns in a unused slate quarry in Wales. The designers knew they’d have at most a day to film the video, so they created a detailed simulation of the performance in their London studio beforehand.
To simulate their installations, UVA uses a proprietary program called D3, created by the company’s software director, Ash Nehru. This screen shot shows the setup for the Battles music video. On-screen a designer has sketched the outlines of the slate mine where the video will be filmed and has positioned the performers and the LED lights within it.
For a live performance at the Tate Modern museum in London in 2006, UVA collaborated with the all-female acrobatics trio Mimbre. UVA used a stereo-imaging camera to create a real-time depth map of the human performers, then rendered the point cloud on a large LED screen behind them.
For this interactive installation in the John Madejski Garden of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, UVA programmed a single slab of LEDs to respond to visitors’ movements by changing its color and sound, becoming more intense and ”aggressive” the closer they got.
For more on UVA’s recent projects, go to http://www.uva.co.uk/latest.