Watch United Visual Artists' installation in motion in the Barbican's Curve gallery
United Visual Artists' 'Momentum' project comprises a series of 12 objects that slowly oscillate in the dark void of the Barbican Gallery's 90m long Curve space in London. The installation takes its cue from the idea of Foucault's pendulum (opens in new tab) - an instrument designed to visualise invisible forces, such as the Earth's rotation.
Every single part of the project - from the electronics to the mechanics - has been researched and custom-built by UVA over nine months. Each swinging element has its own 3D-printed acoustic-chamber, playing out a broad-textural soundtrack, and a light source that cuts a 360 degree plane through the smoke-filled void.
At first the modular system appears to swing in sync to the rhythm of a pendulum, holding the viewer in a state of suspended belief. However, every five minutes or so, small variations to the movement warp onlookers' perception. 'We can really play with time and slow things down very subtly,' says Matthew Clark, one of the founding members of UVA. 'We have absolute control over the mechanics.'
Momentum is about exploring the tension between synthesised and natural movement. But in the words of UVA-designer Ben Kreukniet: 'Physics doesn't like it when you try and take control.' And in the rafters of the Curve, a hidden battle with gravity takes place - where a system of 30kg counterweights, on two axes of rotation, utilise motors that can push and pull each element into place - an engineering project many firms 'wouldn't touch'.
The lean, entirely functional one kilo objects have a beauty of their own, but the near-formless space they define - through an array of light and managed Doppler-effects - becomes the artwork viewers can't ignore. 'We're constantly bombarded with visual noise,' says Clark. 'So we just want to create a place where, for a certain amount of time, people can lose themselves in a moment.'
London EC2Y 8DS
VIEW GOOGLE MAPS (opens in new tab)
Praga Bohema supercar’s Czech racing heritage shines through
The Bohema is a petrol-powered two-seater with competition in its genes and outrageousness in every curve
By Jonathan Bell • Published
On, the sportswear brand on a mission to change the way you move
Wallpaper* visits On’s new Zurich HQ to discover the story behind one of the world’s fastest-growing sportswear brands
By Jack Moss • Published
Brit Awards 2023 trophy design by Slawn highlights opportunity, gratitude and celebration
Chosen to design the Brit Awards 2023 trophy, Nigeria-born visual artist Slawn is making strides, and has collaborations with Virgil Abloh and Skepta under his belt
By Martha Elliott • Published
Forty years of the Barbican Centre: an art utopia made concrete
Building Utopia: The Barbican Centre, published to coincide with the institution’s 40th anniversary, explores the birth of the Barbican, its storied history and its unparalleled impact on contemporary arts and culture
By Harriet Lloyd-Smith • Published
Shilpa Gupta at the Barbican: social injustice, censorship and poetry
In the multipart show ‘Sun at Night’ at London’s Barbican, Mumbai-based artist Shilpa Gupta highlights the fragility of free expression and gives a voice to those silenced
By Cleo Roberts-Komireddi • Published
The nuances of AI dissected at London's Barbican Centre
By Nick Compton • Published
Star cast produces Merce Cunningham’s centenary ballet
Night of 100 solos is an intimate yet far-reaching performance event, with set design by the late Richard Hamilton, and music in part by Christian Marclay
By Elly Parsons • Published
The photographers who captured rebels, rejects and outcasts on the edges of society
By Charlotte Jansen • Published
Lip service: Ragnar Kjartansson sets tongues wagging at the Barbican
By Elly Parsons • Published
International photographers bring a ‘Strange and Familiar’ focus to Britain
By Jessica Klingelfuss • Published
Rolling thunder: Doug Aitken’s ’Station to Station’ arrives at the Barbican
By Tom Howells • Published