Get ready to have your minds blown by UKI. Bringing a little bit of Burning Man magic to Bunjil Place, massive, insect-like interactive kinetic sculpture UKI is one of the stars of Summer Sounds.
A one-night-only event that brings together live music and visually spectacular installations, Summer Sounds is happening on Saturday 25 February.
Headliner Spoonbill, alongside the award-winning Amaru Tribe, Franjapan and DJ Muiscaya are taking care of the live music, while UKI – more formally known as Utility Kinetic Insect – will be providing a mesmerising light show synchronised to the music.
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Inspired by a bee, UKI is the creation of Pelican Studios, who specialise in large scale public art and interactive installations (and fun fact, are located in the same building as the Beat mag office).
Founder of Pelican Studios, artist and designer Callan Morgan, says the origins for the idea come from his interest in the resilient biological life in the harsh Australian outback. “I have always been fascinated by Biomimicry and mega flora and fauna. UKI was designed to go to the desert, the outback is its natural environment and it was actually shipped to the Nevada desert in 2017 for Burning Man,” he explains.
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Since then UKI has toured across Australia and overseas, appearing at everything from Oregon Eclipse Festival, Burning Man and closer to home, White Night, Melbourne Knowledge Week and Pause Festival, clocking up 4000 hours of festival fun.
Combining robotics and a re-purposed Mitsubishi 4WD base, UKI is a full electric vehicle meaning it also has the ability to roam about the place and function as a mobile DJ platform. “UKI can be either in soundcape, exhibition mode or can have DJs play on it,” says Morgan of the fact UKI is partly composed of LED arrays, so can be programmed to pulse and flash and illuminate in response to the environment it finds itself in. At Summer Sounds, DJ Muiscaya will be playing on UKI itself.
“This is a lot of fun as UKI can sure throw down a party. We tend to do gigs with councils, government and universities these days as UKI showcases what is possible when you combine art with innovation and the power of collaboration,” he says.
This particular innovation was a couple of years in the making, from original idea to “researching, conceptualising, planning and putting together the team to help me realise the vision,” while in a neat little nod to serendipity, headline act Spoonbill is also one of Callan’s collaborators on this project: “He is one of the key creators of UKI,” Callan says.
In demand internationally as a festival headliner and touring musician, but also with a resume boasting industrial designer, audio engineer and sound designer credits, Spoonbill was well placed for insights from experience both on and offstage. “One of the key elements when designing UKI was to create the ultimate experience for the DJs as well as the audience.”
When it comes to the Summer Sounds show, Callan says UKI will be set up in Bunjil Place’s Plaza, creating another dance floor while the DJ is playing. “Audiences can expect to see a fully robotic electric insect vehicle moving its legs and wings and lighting with the music,” he says of the way it will interact with both performers and audiences alike. “The idea is that UKI will also sense when people are near and react with sound, lighting and movement”.
Bunjil Place, a $125 million entertainment precinct located in the heart of Narre Warren (meaning public transport can drop you right at the door), has been providing the outer suburbs with everything from theatre, dance, visual art, spoken word, music and more since it opened in 2017.
The site itself is something of an architectural landmark, the dramatic roof form winning numerous architectural awards, including Architecture of the Year at the 2017 International Design Awards.
Summer Sounds, back for the sixth year running, is their premier music event for the year, providing an evening of soulful, funky, upbeat live music showcasing the best in rising local talent.
Although Narre Warren might sound like it’s a million miles away, it’s only a 40-minute drive from the city and there’s plenty of parking, while for those on public transport, it’s a train trip and short bus ride to the venue.
As a sweetener, the first 100 tickets sold receive a complimentary beverage, and there’s plenty of food, booze and non-alcoholic drinks available, so you can dance the night away by the light of a giant robotic creature.
Summer Sounds will take over Bunjil Place on February 25. Find out more by heading here.
This article was made in partnership with City of Casey.