Universal Everything: Beings

This world-premiere exhibition at ACMI features installations that respond differently to every visitor.
Sarah Ward
Published on April 24, 2024


Digital art is taking over the Australian Centre for the Moving Image in a huge way in 2024. The Melbourne venue might be known for its cinemas, as well as past exhibitions about Martin Scorsese, David Bowie, Disney animation and women in Hollywood, but it doesn't just celebrate movies and television. If it can grace screens, it can feature here — including at the Marshmallow Laser Feast: Works of Nature showcase that displayed until April, and then at fellow world-premiere Beings from Wednesday, May 22–Sunday, September 29.

Interactive pieces using innovative technology firmly fit ACMI's remit, which is exactly what its big winter exhibition is about. The playful event explores the work of art and design collective Universal Everything, featuring 13 pieces from its 20-year career. And the experience that you have while walking through Beings won't be the same as anyone else's.

This new reason to head to ACMI wants attendees to not merely look at, but also move and dance in front of its large-scale screens and projected artworks. Beings' pieces respond differently to each visitor, using evolving algorithms and generative technology. That makes you part of the art as well.

'Into the Sun' by Universal Everything, installation view, Lifeforms exhibition, 180 Studios, photo by Jack Hems.

Founded in 2004, Universal Everything began in a garden studio in Sheffield, England, which is where Creative Director Matt Pyke initially set up shop. Now, the collective — which includes animators, architects, cinematographers, designers, developers, engineers and musicians — works globally. Its creations display around the world, too, with stints in London, Seoul, Paris, Istanbul and New York before its upcoming Melbourne exhibition.

Beings' pieces — four of which will be brand-new world-premiere artworks themselves — frequently use the kind of tech that Hollywood studios and video-game makers deploy. Expect to peer at and play with an assortment of characters, and to feel like you've stepped into a movie or a game as well.

The exhibition unravels Universal Everything's creative process, including via hand-drawn sketches that'll be seen by the public for the first time.

Top image: Future You' by Universal Everything, installation view, Digital Impact, Barcelona, Spain, photo by Eva Caraso.


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