Computers that "understand us as much as we understand them" will transform design
Dezeen and MINI Frontiers: in this exclusive preview, Alexandros Tsolakis of lighting studio United Visual Artists explains their dramatic laser installation for MINI that opens tomorrow in Milan.
UVA's installation, called Parallels inspired MINI Connected, will see advanced laser projections illuminating the Magazzini di Porta Genova, a large 19th century warehouse in the south west of the city.
It explores how the relationship between people and computers is evolving as the technology advances in products like cars. "Parallels is an interpretation of how technology creates an extended world around us that we can reach at any given moment," says Tsolakis.
A collaboration with MINI, the installation consists of three circles of laser light that bounce back and forth between two sets of three highly-polished rings placed at either end of the hall, creating tunnels of light.
UVA took inspiration from the glowing circular disc of MINI Connected – the dashboard-integrated console that allows drivers to connect to the internet while driving and access smartphone features such as social media, music playlists and web browsing.
"When working with MINI we started discussing this theme of how the relationship between human and machine [has] developed over the years," Tsolakis says. "The interface that works between humans and computers has changed a lot and that is something that will continue to develop further. The [computers] will understand us as much as we understand them."
As a result, each ring – which starts as a piece of stainless steel weighing 100 kilograms – is milled to a margin of error of less than one millimetre. "We used a really huge lathe to mill the surface and then we polished [each ring] for two days to create this perfectly-reflective surface," he explains.
The result is dramatic: three cylinders of light 12.5 metres long and 1.5 metres in diameter cut through an otherwise pitch-black hall. The precision of the lasers means that any bumps on the surface of the rings would distort the cylinder of reflected light, Tsolakis explains.
This will transform design, says Tsolakis. "The relationship between technology and design will evolve in a much more dynamic way from now."
"The interface between creating something and having the idea will become a much more flexible environment that the artist or designer can manipulate a lot more," he added.
UVA's work includes Momentum, a light installation currently on show at London's Barbican Art Gallery, and the 2013 Serpentine Pavilion intervention, which created the effect of an electric storm in Sou Fujimoto's cloud-like pavilion.
The MINI Connected is a circular device that sits in the dashboard of a MINI, allowing drivers to plug in their smartphones and safely access the internet and social networks.
Parallels is exhibited in the Magazzini di Porta Genova, Via Valenza 2. The installation is part of the Salone del Mobile and can be visited between noon and midnight between 8 – 13 April in Milan.
Dezeen and MINI Frontiers is a year-long collaboration with MINI exploring how design and technology are coming together to shape the future.
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