INTERVIEWS, REVIEWS & RELATED ARTICLES
Vice AUGUST 1, 2016 - by Kevin Holmes
A TWO-HUNDRED-AND-FIFTY FOOT TELESCOPE HOSTS BRIAN ENO'S GENERATIVE PROJECTION ART
The Lovell Telescope has sat in the northwest of England for nearly sixty years, searching through the depths of space and helping to discover quasars, examine pulsars and starburst galaxies, and study the cosmic microwave background, and it was the first telescope to unearth the supposed starless 'dark galaxy' VIRGOHI21. Just recently, as part of the Bluedot festival, the iconic landmark was home to a monumental version of Brian Eno's artwork 77 Million Paintings.
Eno's generative audiovisual piece dates back to 2005, when the musician and artist began experimenting with multiple projectors focused on a single area to create an image. It has since evolved, and now Eno uses software to randomly select from banks of images - around four-hundred-and-sixty all created by Eno, some of which are hand drawn - which are then layered on top of one another and combined with audio to create an ever-changing light installation. The title refers to an estimate of the amount of visual combinations possible with the piece.
It's usually available as a DVD and is often projected in galleries on twelve static screens, but for this one-off they projected the piece onto the girders and underside of the Lovell Telescope. This way, the dynamic visuals highlighted the retro style and mechanics of the radio telescope. The projections happened after sunset, turning the two-hundred-and-fifty foot structure into a huge light installation, a giant abstract canvas for Eno's abstract art.
This version of the work was a collaboration between Eno, his visual team at Lumen London, and Bluman Associates, who did the production design. To create the piece, they modelled the telescope in 3D using a d3 so they could visualise the projections. Then four 40K projectors were used at two locations to ensure the artwork could be viewed from all angles.
"This is one of the largest and most complicated surfaces we have ever projected onto," explains Bluman Associates' Pod Bluman. "As it's such a big structure, it was important to make sure the projections were as impactful as possible as they could be viewed by almost everyone in the audience."