In all likelihood, if Leonardo Da Vinci had had access to computer technology, his exploration of the movement of water might have looked a lot like the installation Universal Everything has erected in Millennium Gallery. As it was, he was stuck with parchment and ink, managing to capture the rushing flow of water in his exquisitely detailed sketches.
Over 500 years later, we’ve moved on from parchment, but the power of cascading water still mesmerises us. A concept that Universal Everything has tapped into for The Vehicle of Nature which builds on Da Vinci’s studies by transforming them into a moving collage of shapes and sounds. On the floor there are several geometric shapes reminiscent of the Peak District’s landscape, and around them colourful projections of arrows, blood vessels, water particles and animated people move.
It is certainly as captivating as Da Vinci’s version (which you can see next door in A Life in Drawing), made all the more enjoyable by the fact you can dip your toes in and out of it, akin to a paddle at Padley Gorge – albeit a bit drier. It is more than just aesthetics too, as it encapsulates the great artist’s interest in recurring patterns in nature. Da Vinci drew connections between the way blood vessels flowed and branched to the course of streams and rivers in landscapes.
Universal Everything’s computer visualisation is based on the patterns evident in fluid dynamics which appear during the movement of water, gases and even people in crowds. The projection cycles through different themes, hopping from people to blood vessels with corresponding sounds. Watching from above, the fast-flowing graphics reveal the beautiful mechanics often inherent in nature. It is enthralling to observe, creating a sort of peaceful reflection, unless you are child, in which case it invites a race up and down the room.
- Words by
- Hannah Clugston