Universal Everything: Lifeforms


‘Our human world is becoming increasingly digitised, though this doesn’t necessarily mean disconnected. The pieces in Lifeforms ask us to see a soul in the machine, the human behind the design, and ourselves on the screen. It’s great to see an exhibition that connects us to this digital space by acting as a mirror to our own behaviours.’

– Helen Bellringer, Creative Director,

Solarflare Studio

Last week our futuristic hit-squad attended the Universal Everything: Lifeforms exhibition at 180 The Strand. The exhibition features 14 digital ‘lifeforms’ existing in individual habitats created by Ab Rogers Design. From motion capture to CGI and the use of generative code, Lifeforms was a beautiful showcase of modern technology.


‘Constantly unique, Lifeforms is an amalgam of installations that mirror and shift with time and the public’s interactions. No visitor will see the same show twice.’ – Universal Everything

The user experience takes you on a flow, weaving around screens and constructions to view and, at times, interact with all of the mesmerising art. Stepping through the curtains, you hear the beat of an abstract soundtrack before descending into the space via a ramp covered in projected generative artwork that responds to the music. The art depicts the flow of organisms, a very fitting beginning to what becomes a showcase of life and movement in all its forms. 


The artists behind Lifeforms are certainly fixated on the walk cycle. The exploration of this across several pieces became a little repetitive after a while, but it makes for captivating moments. Watching monsters run around a cylindrical screen as different ‘abstract forms with a soul’ is a playful way to get the audience excited for what becomes a labyrinth of characters and creatures in the basement of 180.

Next on the sequential journey is Walking City, a continuously looping walk cycle of a building breaking down and building itself back up with different materials inspired by biomorphic architecture. It was here that we noticed the first of many looping glitches; a break in the otherwise seamless visuals. Perhaps a deliberate addition to encourage flow through the exhibition, or maybe just a reminder that total perfection in the digital space is a mean feat.


One of the interactive pieces in the exhibition was Future You, a digital mirror that presents a synthetic version of the participant. The harder you worked and the more you moved, the responsive piece would become stranger and more exciting. With 47,000 possible variations to its shape, you could spend hours dancing in front of it. We appreciated that each piece that sits in the middle of a space was housed in its architectural structure by Ab Rogers Design. So often at exhibitions, the curator will place the interactive screen against a wall and be done with it. But the shapes that housed the screens (and no doubt their necessary technology) felt intuitive and natural in the space. 


There was plenty to see and enjoy at Lifeforms. The team had a fabulous time jumping and dancing to make plants grow, watching as luxury product people sauntered across the screen in a pitch-black room, and sitting transfixed whilst our emotional upheaval was presented and evolving before our eyes. 

The experience was capped off with Communion. A room in which you are surrounded by life in the form of small digital abstract shapes transforming on floor-to-ceiling screens to the sound of boppy music playing – it is near impossible not to want to dance and jump around with the creatures, which was their intention. They wanted the space to echo ‘dancers in a rave lost in connected euphoria’. It certainly felt like we were a few drinks and hours of sleep deprivation away from that reality in the room.

Lifeforms is running until the 4th of December, so make sure to grab a ticket – it’s certainly not one to miss.