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It comes of no surprise that anything you touch or experience in the Virgin Media Studio of the Science Museum will involve digital technology in some way, given that it is sponsored and funded by its namesake, Virgin Media. Touch screen, motion capture, smart phone apps and the internet all come together to form the two audio-visual artworks produced by the digital art and design collective Universal Everything & You. Before entering the darkened studio space, the viewer is given the option to download an application, or ‘app’ that fuels the piece ‘1000 Hands’. This ‘app’ is also available to download on the Science Museum’s website, making the viewer’s lack of appropriate technology the sole excuse for not participating. The digital app offered allows you to draw a simple line on to your touch screen device, which then renders the line into a shape based on digital pre-sets that are selected at random. The user can then manipulate the drawing before submitting it to the piece, where it is then displayed on a multitude of panoramic screens that house every viewer’s small creative contribution. The result is a sea of shifting and dancing amoeba-like creatures that leave you in awe of how alive the piece is, with your participation being the fuel that keeps this digital entity thriving. It also continues to thrive on a digital platform beyond the confines of the Virgin Media Studio space by its existence as an online gallery. Every shape is documented and presented in this online gallery with each shape, when clicked on, revealing the name of its creator and the date of its submission. The physical layout of this installation could be compared to the Earth’s composition, where ‘1000 Hands’ would be its inner core, the audience would inhabit the crust and the deities of the performance piece ‘Presence’ would occupy the skies. The creation of these anthropomorphic deities, that are part of ‘Presence’, comes from motioned captured performances carried out by dancers of the LA Dance Project. The captivating dancers are projected on the outside globular walls of the space, with their complex digital rendering being both beautiful and an accomplished example of what can be done with the technology of today. The music that plays within the space is almost tribal, with a heavy, reverberating drum beat. The dancers move and change colour in tandem with its pace and tempo. They further their anthropomorphic presence by dictating their rhythm and colour to the amoeba-like creatures residing inside the inner core of the space, which pulse hypnotically with the beat of the music. I feel the Universal Everything & You installation perfectly reflects what this new Media Space area of the Science Museum has intended to represent. The purpose built space on the second floor of the Science Museum gives a wide variety of digital artwork the chance to be further represented and prosper as a medium.

Jack Parrott

http://1000hands.universaleverything.com/

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