Posted: 2009-03-24

Not typically a shrinking violet when it comes to visual art, Brian Eno the electronic musician has created the complex Luminous installation, a connection of sound and image. It has a multi-screen programme with software that selects, mixes and overlaps up to four times at a time, to create constantly changing paintings

Ambient audio sounds are also processed, combining layers of sound and light in such a way that you never see or hear the same thing twice.

The installation has been unveiled at Selfridges, under the management of creative director Alannah Weston. The store has a history of working with innovative artists, and, according to Bettina von Hase, NineAM director and art adviser to Selfridges, Eno is ‘about as innovative as you can get’.

Eno has based the installation on his ‘generative art’ work, 77 Million Paintings – so called because of the number of paintings that could be created from almost 300 hyper-colourful images made by the artist over the past 20 years. He describes it as ‘visual music, a slow-changing light painting’.

Rather than blinding with science, the end result creates ever-shifting patterns of imagery and texture, which could potentially reach up to 77 million designs in number.

It has been estimated that it would take more than 9000 years to watch the entire show at the fastest speed available and it would take several million years to witness all the possible combinations it can create.

The generative art form turns the table on the traditional artistic expectations from both the artist and the audience, according to von Hase.

‘Selfridges wanted to take its art further and explore projects with a more interactive quality,’ she says. ‘The interactive theme runs through several galleries, such as the Tate Modern with its recent slide installation.

‘In the 1970s, Eno came up with the idea of Quiet Clubs. He loves to minimise things such as public parks and clubs; he wanted to have a club and take out the annoying elements, like crowds of people or incredibly loud music, and make it a peaceful environment. This project is taking the concept of Quiet Clubs further. It is a combination of things. It is visual and there is sound and environment. And it includes a very technical computer layer. It has a very ephemeral nature, like looking into a river or a fire, it is always changing and lasts for a short period of time,’ she adds.

The show is complemented in the Ultralounge space by contemporary furniture from Greenwich Village, Selfridges’ interior design department.

Eno, a self-styled music theorist, record producer and one-time keyboard and synthesiser player of 1970s band Roxy Music, has been active in many visual art genres, producing videos and installations for gallery displays and collaborations with visual artists.


Luminous takes place from 27 January to 11 March at Ultralounge, Selfridges
Brian Eno’s 77 Million Paintings will appear at BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art in Gateshead in a configuration called Constellations from 31 January to 15 April

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