Client: Texas Tech University System
Location: Lubbock, TX, United States
Completion date: 2016
Jurie Van der Westhuizen
TTU Facilities, planning & Construction
Project: Texas Tech University, Research & Technology Park – Phase 1
Artist: Marco Cianfanelli
Artwork: Knowledge structure
Dimensions: Height 5 meters, width 5.59 meters, depth 3.6 meters
Material: Rusted mild steel
Completed January 2016
Knowledge Structure is an exploration of human progress in relation to our planet. The intention was to create a sculpture that is informed by its context at the new Research & Technology Park, while simultaneously affecting it, inspiring learners to engage with technology and development as a function of the natural world.
Drawing a parallel between tree and the human brain, Knowledge Structure explores the systems and structures of nature's organic forms. As our viewpoint changes, the tree morphs into a human brain, the trunk becoming vertical conduits to the ground.
22 CT scan sections of a brain were used to reconstruct the three-dimensional form of the brain. These profiles have been distorted, and only resolve as a brain when viewed from the entrance of the building. The brain becomes a structural projection into space. The profiles perform a dual role, as they have been divided and arranged into branch clusters that form the canopy of a tree.
The trunks and branches represent a notion, of different disciplines, which are connected, interrelated and interdependent, sharing resources and displaying a process of growth and interconnectedness. The form of the human brain is evident, a neural network that is connected to, as well as dependent on the earth. In this sense, the five columns or trunks that support the brain can be seen as conduits. This concept emphasises the importance of innovation, science & technology in the furthering of Humanity, as endeavours that need to be responsive to, and in synergy with, the environment.
The artist was invited by Texas Tech to submit designs for an artwork for the new Research & Technology Park. The design and fabrication of the sculpture took was executed in South Africa, it was dismantled, packed and shipped to site in the USA, where it was assembled and installed by local metalworkers under the direction of the artist. The design was developed in consultation with the sculpture fabricator, architect, landscape architect and client, in order to ensure the feasibility of logistics as well as ensuring synergy between artwork, landscape and architecture.