United Visual Artists

04 October – 08 December 2018

BOM was delighted to present the world premiere of Beholder, a virtual reality experience by United Visual Artists (UVA) exploring beauty from autistic perspectives.

Commissioned by BOM, Beholder seeks to re-evaluate our perception of beauty, to see it through another’s eyes. The work centres around the wonder of everyday phenomena as seen through the eyes of an autistic child, Oliver, alongside wider autistic perspectives. Oliver is the son of Matt Clark, founder and director of UVA, who has worked with his team at UVA to create the artwork.

Beholder continues UVA’s investigations into experiences that transcend the physical, and question the relativity of experience. It inquires into our ability to process very detailed information at the expense of altering our perception of time and space, a phenomenon often intensified within the autistic spectrum.

“This artwork explores — and in many ways celebrates — the alternative ways in which neurodivergent individuals perceive the world we live in. Following a research-based process with my autistic son Oliver, UVA have created a Virtual Reality experience informed by the stimuli which seem to captivate the attention of an autistic mind.” – Matt Clark, UVA

Beholder studies the movement of a flock of tree sparrows, revealing their flying patterns and other layers of information, while our perception of time and space is highly transformed.

UVA benefitted from wider autistic input during the production of the work. Particularly, through conversations with artist Sonja Zelic who helped by translating her views into the VR experience. Sonja’s new audio work, A Dream of A Safe Space, was also available in the gallery. This work, inspired by Beholder is narrated by the dreamer of the title and is inter-cut with the point of view of a particular sea bird’s lived experience. This makes it unclear who is ‘speaking’ — the voice of the dreamer and bird merge. 

“A Dream of a Safe Space” – Sonja Zelic

Through Beholder, UVA seek to reimagine a space where experience is fluid and neurodiversity is re-evaluated. It offers individuals the opportunity to temporarily enter a new existence, where one can expand or limit their own world, and perhaps be further transformed.