Leeds Art Enthusiasts Invited to Immerse Themselves in Pioneering Urban Light and Sound Installation

Art enthusiasts in Leeds are being offered a unique opportunity to step into the realm of a groundbreaking urban light and sound installation, courtesy of the latest Virtual Reality (VR) technology.

Hans Peter Kuhn, a Berlin-based artist, sound sculptor, and composer, has brought his creation, “A Light and Sound Transit,” to life on Neville Street in Leeds city centre. The temporary public artwork, resembling a chain of pearls with its lines of light, has become a captivating addition to the city’s landscape.

Comprising 3,200 individual LED lights and featuring 96 distinct sonic compositions, the artwork undergoes a daily transformation, treating commuters to a new visual and auditory experience each morning. This vibrant installation, once a vital part of Leeds Train Station’s surroundings, needed a new home due to ongoing redevelopment efforts.

In a collaborative effort between Leeds Museums and Galleries and the Henry Moore Institute, the story and journey of this landmark public artwork have been preserved in an immersive format. Art enthusiasts can now explore the piece online at henry-moore.org/light-neville-street and in person at Leeds Museums and Galleries’ Archive of Sculptors’ Papers, housed at the Henry Moore Institute.

The comprehensive collection includes a 360-degree video, accessible through a VR headset, alongside the artist’s early sketches, design proposals, and technical documentation.

Errin Hussey, an archivist with Leeds Museums and Galleries, said: “It’s been so interesting working with the University of Leeds and project producers MAAP to accession this significant public artwork into our archive in consultation with Hans Peter Kuhn.

“This project has presented us with a unique opportunity to consider how to capture the story behind the decommissioning of a public work of art in addition to its original commissioning and existence while on display in the public realm. These discussions have uncovered otherwise hidden facets of the history of this work and will no doubt encourage new thinking about public sculpture for current and future researchers.”

Launched in 2009, A Light and Sound Transit was one of only a handful of public sculptural works in the world that uses sound and one of even fewer that employs computing technologies.

The piece was always intended to be temporary and was an important part of the early work on the city’s South Bank regeneration project.

Sue Ball, director of project producers MAAP, said: “’A Light and Sound Transit’ continues to hold international significance in helping reshape what public sculpture can be, from a static physical form to one that embraces technology and the immersive.

“I am delighted that the project will live on in Leeds, albeit in a slightly different form, for generations to come to learn about this important commission.”

Councillor Jonathan Pryor, Leeds City Council’s deputy leader and executive member for economy, culture and education, added: “It’s fantastic to see the city’s cultural community working together to secure this innovative piece of public artwork for future generations.

“Animating and transforming public spaces with artwork is a key part of the city’s regeneration and development story and it’s important that we preserve and document the many different steps we take on that journey.”