FROM CHRIS LEVINE’S BLIPVERTS TO LIGHTVERT’S ECHO:
Blipverts became popular from ‘80s television, and the term itself comes from Max Headroom – referring to highly time-compressed advertisement videos. On a more general note, the blipvert is considered to be a brief collection of often-random images cut together very quickly, in a high-speed montage.
However, celebrated light artist Chris Levine took the blipvert to a whole new level. Actually, scratch that – he completely reinvented the term around stunning and elusive lighting installations that now represent a healthy percentage of his internationally acclaimed work.
Built from strips of pulsating LED lights, his blipverts produce flat visual images that are perceivable to the viewer when the work is held in the periphery of their gaze, yet immediately dissolve when they’re directly focused on. You can never look straight at a blipvert and see the image – all you see is a strip of light. But as soon as you look away, shapes and colours begin to make sense in the corner of your eye.
To form a sustained impression, the viewer must therefore pause and move their head quickly from side to side, as the blipvert’s full image is kept precariously at the edge of their vision. This marvellous and unique way of visual representation suspends the image in an elusive reality, entering what Mr Levine calls “the space between thoughts”, a moment of pure experience unhindered by the constraints of conventional logic.
Chris Levine’s blipverts have become particularly popular not just in the contemporary art world, but also with major fashion brands. One of the early adopters was, in fact, Stella McCartney, who incorporated one such light installation on the front of one of its stores – the blipvert showed elusive glimmers of the word “Sale”, stirring the interest of shoppers and people passing by with peripheral visuals, and proving that brick and mortar outlets can still rock the advertising scene.
Mr Levine’s installations varied in size as well – from wall to building height, making it technically possible to project an image at pretty much any range, with the same desired effect: the runaway visual that lingers in the corner of your eye and invites you to use your head in a different manner in order to fully admire it.
Following the same concept and inspired by Mr Levine’s light installations, Daniel Siden teamed up with the artist to further develop the technology for advertising. The new start-up, Lightvert Ltd., is set to disrupt the Digital Out-of-Home (DOOH) market with a ground-breaking new augmented reality solution called ECHO. This market hasn’t been rattled since 2005, when the LED was first introduced.
Mr Siden has recently announced that their ECHO display technology is about to move from high impact prototype to “one of the most significant evolutions in digital outdoor media since Tesla invented modern electricity”.
The problem with LED was that it was limited by the amount of advertising space available. ECHO provides the solution now, using augmented reality to unlock vast amounts of lucrative advertising real estate on tall structures and high-rise buildings.
ECHO is now open to crowdfunding on CROWDCUBE – a chance to literally invest in the future of advertising.
With a global patent pending and until now funded by Innovate UK and a small cohort of seed funders, ECHO has completed the proof of concept and is now ready to develop a commercial solution. Crowdfunding is now needed to help Lightvert finalise the technology development and bring ECHO to the market.
The project is already receiving immensely positive responses from the outdoor advertising industry, and several major creative and media agencies are already on board.
The executive creative director of M&C Saatchi, Mr Simon Dicketts, has endorsed this exciting new medium, and so did Kinetic World Wide (part of the WPP Group) – who have also signed an exclusive partnership agreement with Lightvert to represent the ECHO technology.
In the digital out-of-home market, advertising value is supported by two key factors: size and location. The beauty of the blipvert technology is that a single, non-intrusive strip of light can be mounted on any building and in pretty much any size, and project images spanning the area size of a city block. The images are fleeting, but striking, prompting viewers to stop, engage with the visual and share the experience.
ECHO’s incredibly small footprint can basically lower planning permission barriers and unlock a vast amount of new, high value advertising space. The best part, from a creative point of view, is that it attracts a type of viewer engagement that is completely unreachable through traditional screen media.
Daniel Siden, CEO of Lightvert Ltd explains: “Traditional billboards and large scale LED screens in built-up environments are expensive and it is increasingly challenging to leverage new real estate in crowded urban spaces such as New York’s Times Square and London’s Piccadilly Circus. ECHO provides a new way for brands to rise above the noise of street level advertising and engage with audiences on an unprecedented scale”.
“This is exciting. Technology that frees up the mind to new creative possibilities has to be a good thing,” says Simon Dicketts, Executive Creative Director of M&C Saatchi.
But don’t think for a second that the blipvert technology will benefit advertisers and real estate businesses only. Artists can also look at this method of visual display to explore new dimensions and gain exposure where otherwise it would be impossible to exhibit full scale traditional art works.
Chris Levine set the standard, and it’s always a pleasure to see his poetic renditions of the Queen, Kate Moss, Grace Jones and other icons of the 20th and 21st century, as they flicker across the night sky when we look away.
We look forward to a brighter future. We welcome breaking out of the conventional dimensions and projecting artworks and compelling imagery from the side of sky scrapers, for all the world to see in a new format and part of a new experience.
Cities will come to life, smartphones will be wiggled in order to capture these beautiful images, and consumers will find their senses tickled by this new and exciting display method. And, as far as ECHO is concerned, early adopting will open new doors into advertising and artistic expression.
Chris Levine is a celebrated light artist best known for his candid portrait of Her Royal Majesty Queen Elizabeth II, on the anniversary of 800 years of Jersey’s allegiance to the Crown. Equally popular and highly acclaimed are his lenticular portraits of music legend Grace Jones, fashion icon Kate Moss and His Holiness the 14th Dalai Lama, among others.
Most recently, Chris Levine has developed his iy_project into a spectacular and immersive light and sound experience, best seen at Wonderfuit in Thailand, the David Bowie tribute at Glastonbury last year, Hastings Pier and Eden Project in Cornwall. And 2017 is only just getting started.