Deep down two floors underneath central London, a large concrete basement has been taken over by a display of lighting art that is as varied as it is remarkable.
Fusing sounds, lighting effects, and the dark concrete basement space, the exhibition at 180 Studios is by the artist collective United Visual Artists (UVA), who have filled large empty spaces to mark their 20th anniversary.
There are also few tickets left for sale on their website.
It takes a moment to get used to the darkness as you enter, and walk into a room bombarded with numbers and countdown clocks on a large wall, all using information from internet data feeds.
It’s both oddly captivating and slightly scary as if you can imagine a malevolent AI computer hacking into reality to take over the nuclear codes. One of the more disconcerting displays are three large swinging lit pendulums, which swing over a steep slope down into the depths of the building. All in a room slightly smokey to obscure the details and hide what else might lay here.
A “henge” of lights and sounds sits alone in an empty space, and you can sit inside the henge or walk around, but give it time as the patterns change quite substantially at times. A spinning light in another room is discordant, amplified by the loud clicking sound accompanying it; another room is filled with a computer-generated pattern of lights oddly reminiscent of scenes from Disney’s Fantasia, where music is given shape.
The final display of the “music of the spheres” in physical form and a room is filled with lights that spin around planets to the thumping soundtrack. It’s also a display worth lingering in the room, especially if you’ve arrived when it’s very white, as it soon won’t be.
As an exhibition, it’s very much an experience to be had, walking through slightly disorientating dark rooms and almost stumbling upon modern works of art in this raw empty space. It’s also one that rewards spending time in each space as you penetrate deeper into the stygian gloom within, eventually leaving into the daylight once more.
Tickets need to be booked in advance, and are available from here.
Adults: £20 | Concessions: £15 | Children (<12): Free
Note, the exhibition entrance is NOT on Strand at the main entrance to 180 Studios , but around the corner on Surrey Street, and then down two flights of stairs. There is an accessible way in via the main entrance, which would need to be arranged separately.