This week we’ve been featuring some of the artists involved in the Barbican’s latest groundbreaking exhibition, ‘Digital Revolution’ which charts the influence of technology on the arts.
As well as the exhibited pieces there are a number of commissioned works, one of which is by Universal Everything; a digtal art design studio headed up by Matt Pyke. They have created ‘Together’ a collaborative animation project which enlists the help of the public in its creation. Universal Everything has designed a tool which allows the public to create animations – visitors can draw on tablet computers to contribute to a giant crowd-sourced animation, which is relayed across a cluster of 24 screens.
We talked to Matt Pyke to find out more about the project and Universal Everything’s practice.
HOW DID YOU BECOME INVOLVED IN THE WORLD OF VISUAL ARTS?
I studied botanical and technical illustration followed by graphic design. Then started my career designing for the music industry, record sleeves, interactive and animated music videos. I then founded my own studio in 2004, developing a mix of design, film and art projects.
WHAT ATTRACTED YOU TO EXHIBITING AS PART OF DIGITAL REVOLUTION?
We were invited by the curator Conrad Bodman to create the first installation you experience as you enter the Barbican, our brief was very open and challenged us to develop a new direction we have not explored before.
THE EXHIBITION WILL SEE YOU TAKE OVER THE BARBICAN’S SILK STREET ENTRANCE WITH YOUR INSTALLATION ‘TOGETHER’. HOW MUCH OF AN IMPACT DID THE SPACE ITSELF HAVE ON THE FINISHED INSTALLATION?
The Silk Street entrance space gave us the opportunity to present a work which primes the viewer with a sense of the collaborative nature of digital culture. The linear movement of the public through the space was reflected in the linear arrangement of the 24 screens, an ever-changing series of looped animations creating a hive of activity.
‘TOGETHER’ IS AN INTERACTIVE PIECE. WHAT DO YOU HOPE VISITORS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM IT?
The work is entirely dependent on the public, their input is what forms the experience. Empowering the public through the tool we have designed, allows anyone to exhibit their work in the Barbican. We developed a creation tool with simple boundaries, which reveal how every person has a unique approach to the same problem. The diversity of inventive responses, from naive doodles to accomplished flourishes, highlights the democracy of technology.
HOW HAS THE EVOLUTION OF THE DIGITAL ARTS HEIGHTENED THE VIEWER’S EXPERIENCE IN YOUR OPINION?
Due to the everyday familiarity of touch screens, the intimidation of technology is reduced. People are now comfortable touching digital artworks. Thanks to social media, it is acceptable for everybody to contribute their voice to a global conversation.
HOW DOES THE NAME ‘UNIVERSAL EVERYTHING’ REFLECT YOUR APPROACH TO CREATING ART?
We are always seeking and playing with new technologies and materials. Universal Everything is a name which sets out a huge boundary for us to explore within.
AS TECHNOLOGY CONTINUES TO ADVANCE HOW DOYOU SEE YOUR WORK EVOLVING?
Whether it’s for the wrist, in-car, across building facades or in wearable displays, our work will always be motivated by inventing surprising, challenging content for screens.
WHAT PROJECTS ARE YOU WORKING ON NEXT?
A central theme of our work has been the presence of life and emotion in abstract technological forms, after a series of projects working with body movement and motion capture, we have started to explore the possibilities of the human face, in new forms of portraiture.
THE EXHIBITION BRINGS TOGETHER ARTISTS WORKING WITH A VARIETY OF MEDIUMS. WHICH OTHER EXHIBITING ARTISTS ARE YOU MOST EXCITED ABOUT SEEING?
The artists working beyond the screen; the malleable walls of light made by Umbrellium.
WHAT DO YOU THINK VISITORS WILL TAKE AWAY FROM THE DIGITAL REVOLUTION EXHIBITION?
Your everyday devices give you the power to invent the future.
Find out more about Universal Everything on their website.
Digital Revolution runs from 3rd July – 14th September at the Barbican. More info here.