Most art pieces invite the viewer to bring their own perspective, but rarely does the art itself shift before you can look away. With "Blueprint," a new two-piece installation in lobbies at the University City Science Center
’s 3737 Market Street, members of London's United Visual Artists
(UVA) have taken the laws of science -- in fields like biology, software and genetics -- and married them to the light, color and texture of art.
When Flying Kite
caught up with UVA's Nick Found and Ben Kreukniet in early December, it was a busy week for the internationally acclaimed arts group, which works on projects that encompass sculpture, installation, live performance and architecture. UVA recently installed pieces in Seoul, London and Philadelphia -- that's three exhibitions on three continents opening in the same week.
Each rectangular Blueprint piece is eight feet high and four feet wide, and weighs over 286 pounds. They’re a combination of color-shifting LED lights glowing through a translucent acrylic matte broken into 1,536 rectangular cells thanks to an aluminum grid (or aluminium, depending what side of the pond you’re from).
"We’re not very pro using off-the-shelf products," explains Found, referring to the painstaking year-long process of creating the works by hand, not to mention the software that powers Blueprint’s undulating look.
Because if you look at Blueprint for more than a few seconds, you’ll notice that the colors are constantly shifting and shading, fighting each other for chunks of the board, constantly spreading and receding in different ways. Occasionally, the board resolves into one solid shade before the waves of color pulse back to life.
It’s all thanks to an algorithm "inspired by the building blocks of life," explains Kreukniet. "Instead of deciding the composition [of the piece], we’re deciding on a set of rules."
Think the natural laws that govern things such as weather patterns, soil conditions and evolution. The rules are constant, but the practical outcomes -- from drought to monsoons or frogs to giraffes -- are infinitely varied.
Found and Kreukniet have a curious relationship to their Blueprint creations, each of which plays host to two distinct software "organisms." As long as the installation is turned on, the two computer-engineered entities, representing themselves with different colors, wrestle each other for control of the board's grid, within the rules of their co-existence.
Found and Kreukniet are pleased with the location of the pieces -- these permanent installations are free for everyone to view and consider, outside of a rarefied gallery setting.
"Every time you see the piece, it’s doing something different," says Found.
Blueprint is funded by the Philadelphia Redevelopment Authority’s Percent for Art
program, which teamed with the Science Center and its 3737 Market Street development partner, Wexford Science + Technology
Writer: Alaina Mabaso
Sources: Nick Found and Ben Kreukniet, United Visual Artists