Spectra-3 is a kinetic light sculpture. It is nearly 10 feet tall, and resembles the radio telescopes found in the Very Large Array of the Plains of San Agustin, New Mexico. It is comprised of a large, trunk-like base that supports a dish that serves as the receiver for information gathered from the cosmos.
The sculpture’s movement relies on several variables, combining live feedback from movement of the viewer and pre-determined, computer generated choreography. The range of motion of this piece mimics what the radio telescopes of the Very Large Array are able to accomplish; the entire piece can rotate around its base, or the dish itself can tilt and rotate. With this movement, lights and projections reflect off the mirrors that comprise the ‘dish’ of the sculpture, creating dazzling movement of light around the space. The mirrors do not abut, allowing some of the light to shine through the dish, creating intricate shadows around the base of the sculpture. Sound accompanies the piece; it is tranquil yet ethereal. Sonic atmosphere is created through the use of spatialized sound. Like the movement of the sculpture, sound travels around the environment and transforms the entire work into a wholly immersive experience.
As the audience enters the space, they are surrounded by sound and moving light. Light shines through, around, and directly onto the mirrored surface of the dish, creating a fantastic array of mesmerizing lights around the entire space. Each of these fragments of light dance around the walls of the gallery, varying in brightness and creating depth in this projection. The rapid movement of these lights in correlation with the movement of the sculpture itself create a sense of wonder within the audience: What is this piece listening for? What has it found?
This work features bespoke software that reacts to real-time data inputs, though it is not obvious what these data-inputs actually are. This removes the desire of the audience to perform the body and hand gestures typical of wholly interactive installations; allowing for the piece to be mysterious in its movements that are seemingly performed for the audience.
The artists of FIELD.io created this piece based on the Very Large Array. The telescopes there are used to observe black holes, discover magnetic filaments, and study the Universe’s cosmological parameters. The work takes this never-ending search for truth and compresses time to show how even the movements of our tools might be seen to express our curiosity.
This piece is part of the Spectra series. The series focuses on the creation of an experience that combines both physical and digital elements. These effects combined creates a sensory experience that mirrors the human narratives of communication and relationships. Spectra-3 achieves this through its graceful motion, technological look, and ethereal sound-scape.
FIELD developed this initial this idea, exploring the human desire to “look further, to find out, to understand what our place is in this bigger whole”. It is a strangely entrancing spectacle, quite literally coming to life, gently swirling as though searching for a signal with an almost melancholic tone. Wilson, Antonia and FIELD (2016, Jan 14).
It's the biggest self-commissioned artwork the studio have ever done. Built from bespoke steel and surrounded by sensors, at nearly 10' tall, it's controlled by custom software which commands the motors, lights, haze, and multi-channel sound. Holmes, Kevin, (2016, Jan. 15).
Spectra-3 is a piece that focuses on humanity’s desire for communication and research of the mostly-unknown, space. Work that brings attention to how small the humanity is when compared to the vastness of the cosmos and how our desire to communicate is manifested in technology is a little touched upon area of focus. Spectra-3 brings wonder, humility, and introspection to center stage with its awe-inspiring presence. It is able to do this through the imagery portrayed in the physical manifestation of the piece; the radio-telescope represents humanity’s attempts to make contact with the others that may be out there, or to simply hear what is happening beyond our tiny, earthen realm. Listening to outer-space with these massive objects, that physically humble humanity on earth bring sounds that spiritually humble the entire human race, due to our lack of understanding and comprehension of what is exists outside of our own existence is an awe-inspiring phenomenon. FIELD’s representation of these objects truly captures this emotion.
Quasar, from 2015, belongs to a body of work built on the premise of speculation of the future and how humanity will experience the world at that time. Quasar is a series of three wearable Virtual Reality helmets that guide one through graphical realms; varying from atmospheric, to galactic, to abstract. The graphics are accompanied by a sound environment that compliment what the wearer sees through the VR system. These pieces are designed based upon 3 human archetypes of exploration, each with their own means of perception, rationale and communication. The shapes and design of each reflect design sensibilities associated with the human archetypes outlined by Field.io. The concepts behind both Spectra-3 and Quasar can be combined to create a series that is based on the human desire to make connections and communicate with what may inhabit our cosmos and future of exploration of space. Quasar could be said to spawn from interactions that occur utilizing the technology represented in Spectra-3.
Compare this work to Tomas Saraceno’s pieces that speculate about the future of humanity, the work 14 Billions, in particular. In this piece, Saraceno creates a wildly complex portrayal or spider webs that he has studied in a lab setting. In 14 Billions, the web fills the entire gallery. Thousands and thousands of points connect together to make the web, which is made of black line and tied at specific junctures where points intersect. Saraceno compares the 3-dimensional webs created by spiders to how the Universe takes its form, as the both resemble each other in their physical manifestations.
Though Spectra-3 and 14 Billions These pieces are relative because they utilize a large empty space and fill it with “forces.” We know from physics that gravity is drawing every molecule towards each other and entropy encourages them to fall apart from structural forms. When we look into the universe and see a nebula forming millions of new planets, we are able to see strings of matter, led by competing forces causing some entities to gather while others are lost into the vastness of space. This work helps the viewer see these forces, too complex to visualize under normal circumstances.
Sara Arrhenius gives her insight on 14 Billlions:
The desire to understand and give visual form to the way that matter holds together has led Saraceno further and further into the innermost, fundamental structures of the universe. In a series of works he has found his way into astrophysics and biology, to seek correspondences and analogies between the various scales and levels of existence; between theories of the genesis of galaxies and the logic of the growth of spiders’ webs. Sara Arrhenius, Intergalactic spiders, in 14 Billions, via Saraceno’s Website (2012, Feb. 14).
Tomas Saraceno Resources:
Exhibitions featuring this Spectra-3:
- Lumiere Festival, King’s Cross, London, 2016