United Visual Artists: Other Spaces review

Art, Contemporary art Free
4 out of 5 stars
United Visual Artists: Other Spaces review
United Visual Artists Installation view of Vanishing Point at Towner Art Gallery, 2013-14

Time Out says

4 out of 5 stars

At one point in their show, United Visual Artists make your stomach turn. The walls of the room collapse around you, or split wide open, or spin sickeningly. But it’s not real. It’s a trick of perspective that reaches through your eyes and tickles your brain.

The laser installation, inspired by the perspective tricks of the Renaissance, is a good example of what this collective (led by Matt Clark) does. Using light and sound, UVA create works that force you to consider and confront the spaces you inhabit.

First up is a rejig of UVA’s Barbican Curve show, a ballet of swinging mechanical lights set to a glittering, glitching electronic soundtrack by the brilliant Mira Calix. As the lights dance, the space goes from static to fluid, staccato to legato. The light shapes the feeling of the space.

Then comes the laser room with its brain-tickling beams of white and blue. But the best comes last. Using the vast sound database of ecologist Bernie Krause, UVA visualise the sounds of nature. Yukon gulls squawk at 2000khz, each screech registering as a blip of light scrolling past you, while elephants rumble at 100khz in an African nature reserve. All sounds create stuttering patters, like an electrocardiogram of nature: it’s the symphonic heartbreak of the planet, and it’s immersive, affecting, and beautiful.

The reason this all works so well as an exhibition is because it deals with the human body in three ways. One work explores how your body interacts with the space around it, another deals with how your brain can be sent tumbling by that space, and the final one considers your body as a thing in nature. It all makes you hyper-aware of your own skin, of the space around you, and the world we live in, and that’s a damn neat trick for a work of art to play.


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