Critical mass: public artwork

WESTERMAN, Julie and QUINN, Lulu (2004). Critical mass: public artwork. [Artefact]

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Critical Mass is an animated light and vapor sculpture, produced based in collaboration with Lulu Quinn and installed June 2004.

In this commission, Westerman has developed and realized a novel approach to socially sited art. The aim of this commission was to produce a ‘smart’ public sculpture that measures and reflects the internal workings and activities of the Millennium Building, Wolverhampton University.

In keeping with many city centre campuses, this is a high profile, high-use building often deemed unfriendly or impenetrable to the local population. Critical Mass demonstrates a novel use of integrated electronic and mechanical systems to represent and communicate the activity inside the building to the city as a whole. It achieves this in a manner that is integral to the architecture of the building while creating an aesthetically engaging and accessible icon for the University and the city.

The work is a dynamic sensing device designed to respond to the intensity of social activity of various sorts that take place within and adjacent to the building. The pipes act as a pressure gauge for the environment, registering the ‘temperature’ of social interaction, academic debate, and other changes. Each pipe is internally illuminated and animated by LED lights; jets of steam are released into the atmosphere, providing a graphic representation of the 'pressure points' inside and around the University.

Item Type: Artefact
Research Institute, Centre or Group: Cultural Communication and Computing Research Institute > Art and Design Research Centre
Related URLs:
Depositing User: Ann Betterton
Date Deposited: 24 Jan 2012 16:51
Last Modified: 24 Jan 2012 16:51

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