If you’ve ever wondered what it would feel like to journey inside Joy Division’s iconic Unknown Pleasures album artwork, the audiovisual art piece Entangled Structures is for you. On a Friday evening, Cardiff’s Cultvr Lab hosted this live exhibit, designed by the award-winning artist Marian Essl aka MONOCOLOR. The piece took full advantage of Cultvr’s 360° dome screen and really showed what the space could be capable of.
Oscillating black and white patterns knit themselves, fluctuating from rigid shapes to curves seamlessly. Describing how he creates these amazing structures and shapes, Essl says “the computer is my collaborator”: as he works, the algorithm suggests potential resolutions to each movement which he curates. His intention, Essl continues, is to make the feeling of connection between people tangible, be that digital and otherwise. During the piece, however, I felt like it was primarily exploring the tension between the organic and the synthetic.
In its best moments, Entangled Structures’ score reflected this dynamic. Whilst harsh lines were being constructed, distant synths and metallic rumbling surrounded us. Suddenly, human voices rose to prominence, in sync with a transition from industrial tunnels into a web-like cavern. It felt like we were floating into a spider’s nest.
The audio aspect was subtle and minimalist: all recorded by Essl himself, and more soundscape-like than melodic. Thoughtfully executed and mirroring the monochromatic visuals thematically, I couldn’t help feeling a more intricate and less static composition would have enhanced my immersion.
Occasionally, you would become so mesmerised, that the room would begin spinning. These were the moments Entangled Structures really triumphed, and the audience was utterly hypnotised by the MONOCOLOR world. When the piece finished, the last bass note fading with the final shape, the audience paused for a long moment before the applause started – all of us in disbelief that 40 minutes had passed so quickly.
Planning to return to Cultvr this year, MONOCOLOR’s next exhibit is not one to be missed.
Cultvr Lab, Cardiff, Fri 6 May
words OPHELIA LARK PEARCE for BUZZ CULTURE
Discover how our brand new learning experience is giving young people in Wales the skills they need to get ahead.