Eon

4+

Client: College of Natural Sciences at the University of Texas at Austin

Location: Austin, TX, United States

Completion date: 2020

Artwork budget: $500,000

Project Team

Founding Director and Curator of Landmarks

Andrée Bober

Landmarks, the public art program of the University of Texas at Austin

Project Manager for Landmarks

Nisa Barger

Landmarks, the public art program of The University of Texas at Austin

Associate Dean

Dean Appling

College of Natural Sciences

Commercial Construction & Architecture

The Beck Group

Technical Support

Ian Campell and LAITS Technology Integration Team at UT Austin

Technology Manager

Bill Haddad

Landmarks, the public art program of the University of Texas at Austin

Commercial Construction & Architecture

Payette

Artist

Jennifer Steinkamp

Architecture and Interior Design

STG Design

Capital Planning and Construction

Keith Westmoreland

Overview

Jennifer Steinkamp’s Eon is a 30 x 9-foot digital installation commissioned for Welch Hall, the largest academic facility at The University of Texas at Austin and part of the College of Natural Sciences. Blurring the line between the biological and virtual, the site-specific installation visualizes a fictional scene of primordial life, rendered through multiple layers of digital animation. Eon draws inspiration from the concept of symbiosis, the mutual cooperation of unlike organisms— such as flowers and the insects and animals that pollinate them, or friendly bacteria inside the human microbiome. Biomorphic shapes undulate across the screen, punctuating an aqueous backdrop with bursts of pink, yellow, and multicolored fragments that resemble a swarm of living organisms and plants. The installation transforms the main corridor of Welch Hall into a hyperreal, simulated natural world, while signaling the research that takes place within the building. A vision as powerful as it is beautiful, it serves as a reminder that life on earth began through cooperation, and that our future depends upon it.

Goals

The goal of this project was to introduce a work of art into the newly renovated Welch Hall, a building that hosts tens of thousands of students each day. It was important that the work connect to the natural sciences, which are both taught and researched within the building. It was equally important that the work draw the eye of those inside the building as well as passing pedestrians, since the installation is clearly visible through Welch Hall’s expansive glass façade. This high visibility also required that the installation complement other works from Landmarks’ collection sited nearby. Eon is a fluid counterpoint to the rectilinear insistence of the surrounding campus, suggesting the organic matter that begins and sustains life.

Process

Many of Steinkamp’s large-scale installations explore the natural world, making her a perfect choice for the College of Natural Sciences. Her process for developing this design included close coordination with the building renovation team, as well as input from Landmarks and the College of Natural Sciences. The animation was rendered in the artist's studio and was configured for the LED display with the assistance of Bill Haddad, Landmarks Technology Manager.