The title of the exhibition is eponymous with the seminal 1927 publication by Walter Russell, and centres upon Galvani’s monumental neon sculpture Study on Walter Russell (1871-1963): Elements of Matter.
“To think in light,” wrote Walter Russell, “is to open the doors of all knowledge.” Russell presented his unique cosmogony in The Universal One, fusing physics with metaphysics, science with spirituality, describing a Universe of consciousness that exists beyond sensation. Russell’s radical statements were rejected by many academics at first—his ideas reached beyond the material world of empirical analysis and into the vanguard of knowledge about the Universe, envisioning what many could not yet imagine.
The Universal One is a site-specific installation designed for The RYDER as an experiential environment—an immersion into the singular and fluid force that animates and colours the world, opens flowers, breathes oxygen into the air, gives cells their primal intelligence, liberates energy through combustion. Conceived as a reflection on life itself, the exhibition illustrates cycles of integration and disintegration: from units of energy into atoms, to the architecture of phenomena that brings all things into existence, moves them, disassembles and transforms. All creation is embedded in this cycle—the elements that comprise the stars and the sky are exactly the same as those that come together to form life on Earth.
At certain times during the exhibition, vocalists and performers transform the gallery into an immersive theatre of light and sound. Live voices activate space, producing a chorus that seems to emerge from a primitive instinct, atmospheric resonations that undulate like wind. Natural sounds and chants rise, articulating a transformation from state to state in a sonic ecosystem that is alive and active. Like a river that is never the same, sound moves through a cyclical choreography that advances and recedes. The performance migrates throughout the gallery and emanates into the street. The show expands, becomes a soundscape, an experimental orchestra of audio-visual stimuli. Collective rhythms and individual inflections move and pulse through space, texturising it, interacting with the architecture, the work, and the public.