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Interactive light/sound installation by artist Vesna Petresin debuts at Mint Museum Uptown
Installation view of Lumisonica by Vesna Petresin.


CHARLOTTE, NC.- The Mint Museum announced the public debut of Lumisonica, a site-specific, interactive light and sound installation on the Grand Staircase of Mint Museum Uptown at Levine Center for the Arts created by Vesna Petresin. Visitors can experience a changing canvas of ambient light and sound that responds to their movements as they climb or descend the stairs.

Petresin, born in Ljubljana, Slovenia, is a trans-disciplinary artist who has exhibited and performed at the Tate Modern; ArtBasel Miami; the Royal Academy of the Arts; the Venice Biennale; the Institute of Contemporary Arts London; and the Vienna Secession. She is based in London, Amsterdam, and Berlin. She is scheduled to be an artist in residence at the McColl Center for Art + Innovation from January through April.

Mason, based in Asheville, runs a digital media business offering services such as media systems architecture and design, photography, animation, web design, sound design, show control/stage interactives, and more. He designed and implemented the lighting and sound systems and consulted on programming for Lumisonica.

The project was funded through a generous grant from The John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, which challenged museums to use technology to enhance the visitor experience.

Creating a multisensory landscape
Lumisonica transforms the museum’s main entrance into an unparalleled immersive experience that will be choreographed by the visiting public. Based upon the idea of the smart city, this multisensory landscape makes invisible space visible, audible, and tangible while aiming to increase people’s awareness that they can and do shape their own place, perceptions and reality. Lumisonica assures a daring and playful experience like no other in the heart of Charlotte’s flourishing art district. Juxtaposed near the large reflective Niki de Saint Phalle sculpture Firebird in front of the Bechtler Museum of Modern Art, this light and sound sculpture provides another dynamic feature to highlight entropic experiences, moiré patterns and other optical and perceptional illusions in this cultural area.

The “smart city” concept of this dynamic datascape is drawn from two components that change the form to an accessible visual/audio display based upon public movement and engagement:

Visual content is created by programmable LED light features embedded into the staircase and railings. The light effects are designed to work interactively based on data captured from the environment as well as on presets of visual effects. The light effects are programmed along a 24/7 schedule with pre-rendered sets at specific times of the day, combined with responsive effects based on criteria such as visibility, program of events at the museum, and the number of visitors.

Audio content permeates ambient sound loops designed to respond and support the light effects. These amplify the visitor’s feeling of presence in the environment and assist their spatial navigation, by amplifying the ranges of frequencies that translate to embodied sensations. The audio content includes composed soundscapes and loops of sonic textures as well as key framed musical motifs on specific days and at specific times to announce events.

“My work tries to offer a moment to remember we inhabit and co-create a multisensory symphony,” said Petresin. “The piece for the Mint has been inspired by the idea that matter is information under constant transformation, bringing memory, human connection, wonder, and innovation.”

Lumisonica will be in place during The Mint Museum’s upcoming exhibition Immersed in Light (Fall 2019 – Spring 2020). The exhibition will feature experiential lighting installations by four contemporary artists and designers at Mint Museum Uptown.

Staircase to enhance museum experience, visitation
The Mint was among 12 recipients of $1.87 million in funding from the Knight Foundation for new ways of using technology to immerse visitors in art. Institutions in cities including Philadelphia, Detroit, Miami, Minneapolis, Chicago, and New York City are joining Charlotte in creating new tools ranging from chat bots to augmented reality apps to engage new audiences.

Funding for this project is part of a Knight Foundation initiative to help museums better meet new community demands and use digital tools to meaningfully engage visitors in art. Knight, which promotes informed and engaged communities, has helped institutions—from newsrooms to libraries—adapt to and thrive in the digital age. This funding expands the foundation’s use of its digital expertise to help art museums build stronger, more vibrant communities.

“The arts have the rare power to bring diverse communities together, provoke personal reflection, and inspire new ways of thinking,” said Victoria Rogers, Knight Foundation vice president for the arts. “Our hope is that by integrating technology, museums can better reach and engage audiences in ways that connect them to the art.”

Vesna Petresin is currently an Artist-in-Residence at Amsterdam University of the Arts and a Visiting Fellow at Goldsmiths (University of London). She has been an Artist in Residence at ZKM in Germany and created a London-based trans-disciplinary art collective whose exploration of optics, acoustics and psychology takes the format of performance, installation and artifact.

As a time architect, non-object based designer, space composer and performer, her practice utilizes an alchemy of media and senses (sound, film, space, interaction, and performance) to take art out of the white cube and bring it into an immersive experience. The key concept is transformation—of the material, the immaterial and the self.

Petresin seeks elements to link cultures rather than separate them and pays attention to archetypal formal constants and patterns existing in nature, human perception and the creative process. Her work in immersive light is ground-breaking and has been featured at Tate Modern, ArtBasel Miami, Venice Biennale, The Royal Festival Hall, The Royal Academy of Arts, ICA, The Sydney Opera House, Vienna Secession, Cannes International Film Festival and Kings Place among others.

Petresin’s academic background in classical music and architecture has propelled her as a Fellow of the Royal Society of the Arts, a Member of the Architectural Association, a keynote speaker at symposia including “SuperLux: Smart Light Art, Design and Architecture for Cities” (Technical University of Munich, 2016), the XR Summit (ISE at RAI, Amsterdam 2018) and a print author of internationally notable publications. She has written on smart cities (Thames & Hudson, Black Dog) and on Leonardo da Vinci’s creative methods in relation to 21st century view of morphogenesis in art and design for Springer Publications.





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