United Visual Artists: Momentum (Barbican)

Posted: March 19, 2014


What if, for a few minutes, you pass into another dimension? A dark curved space, a few lamps hanging down from the roof and rocking, weird sounds filling the gallery.  Momentum, the installation hosted in the Curve at the Barbican Centre, is as simple as that. But the emotions, the evocations and the feelings you experience while walking through the dark gallery are not at all as simple.

The exhibition consists of a sequence of pendulum-like elements projecting lights and sounds from the roof. By walking through the space the visitor is part of the exhibition and he shapes his own experience. As in Plato’s cave, objects and shadows are sometimes difficult to spot. Light and darkness, reality and illusion, sound and silence: the beauty of Momentum lies in the passage between opposite states. 

UVA (United Various Artists), the studio that created the installation, recommend that you leave your habits behind: “Our internal model of time, movement, mass and space is based on a lifetime of experience, perhaps even genetically encoded. What happens when we build a new model? What happens when we bend the rules?”. There are actually no rules in the Curve. Visitors move as they like, in all directions. They decide between standing underneath the rocking lamps or sticking to the walls.

As the light moves and changes its shape, so do the sounds. Ii is impossible to distinguish the nature of them: shoots, rain, animals? UVA's lines of enquiry include the tension between real and synthesised experiences, the questioning of our relationship with technology and the creation of phenomena that transcend the purely physical.

The evocations are uncountable, as well as the reactions of the crowd. The curved shape of the gallery reminds visitors of Earth, so that they jump back into a primordial stage, even in biblical terms (And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light….). 

Even though the experience is open to all kinds of interpretations, the thematic focus of Momentum lies maybe on the force that drives the universe, the energy that keeps life going.  Combining light, sound and movement, the exhibition is a pure immersion into another dimension. In two words: simply unmissable.

Momentum is at the Barbican Centre until the 1st of June 2014 and admission is free.