Art, Research & Adventure
Art, Research & Adventure
A installation commissioned to reflect the building's unique context and purpose.
Client: The University of Bath
Photography: Dom Moore
A permanent, building-wide installation responding to the meeting of culture and academia on the University of Bath's campus. The installation is encountered in many different places throughout the building, with each location presenting varying expressions of a common visual language.
The Edge was an arts and creativity hub informed by the context and research of the University of Bath, up until its untimely closure during the coronavirus pandemic. The Edge encouraged collaborations between the arts and research, providing a place where artists, audiences, researchers and academics can find new perspectives and fertile ground to showcase new thinking and ideas.
At The Edge mechanical engineers met artists interested in moving structures, architects work with the arts to shed new light on the nature of play and how architecture influences it, people bring together inventing and engineering expertise to create artworks of scientific complexity.
The Edge commissioned Smith & Lewarne because they wanted to represent these collaborations visually. The permanent installation is located throughout the building.
We utilised the collaborative nature of the building within the installation by developing an abstracted system where the images could be read across the different disciplines as a starting point for future conversations.
The unfortunate closure of the Edge has not meant the end of the building however, and the installation remains visible to visitors to the Students' Union who now occupy the building.
The process began with an invitation to explore the University's archives, with a particular focus on the architectural history of the campus. The Alison and Peter Smithson played a pivotal role in designing some key buildings on the campus and their unique place in British architectural history was something we were keen to acknowledge by incorporating imagery from certain records in the archives.
We also explored long-outdated text books and journals, scanning images and textures to feed into our image-making process.
A final source of visual material was the Internet Image Archive, a vast resource of out of copyright images from books published around the world. We searched for academic themes in the archive, pulling out the images which spoke to the material was gathered in the archives to add to a bank of visual material was then used to create the installation. The images were then put through a series of digital and analogue processes to give them a more unified look and feel. These processes included printing, rescanning, colourisation and halftone screening.
A series of graphic compositions were then created in response to each of the spaces the installation needed to occupy. Once the compositions were finalised some of the shapes were used to frame the images we had created.
Each space was unique and had different requirements. The windows still needed to let a lot of light through them, the cafe area needed to be food-safe and easily cleanable, the corridors needed to be robust enough to stand up to years of people brushing up against them and the atrium and stairwell spaces needed to have a greater amount of presence given their scale. To address these requirements needed a great deal of dialogue with the building users, as well as modelling and mock-ups.
We created 3D models of certain areas of the building, like the stairwells and atrium, while flat plans were sufficient for the windows and other spaces. Modelling like this enabled us to bring our intentions to life for the building users and confidently plan the installation with our production team WithPrint.