The Beacons

Submitted by Gabby Shawcross

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Client: Hammerson Plc

Location: Leicester, United Kingdom

Completion date: 2016

Project Team

Artist

Gabby Shawcross

Studio Of Cinematic Architecture

Architect

Tim Sloan

Levitate Architecture and Design

Client

Hammerson Plc

Hammerson Plc

Industry Resource

ADI

ADI

Industry Resource

Ross Cairns

The Workers

Overview

The Beacons is a site-specific place-making sculpture that connects St Peters Square with the wider community of the city of Leicester. The unique video totems form a glowing three-dimensional lantern drawing people in and activating the public space with specially created moving image artwork. From afar the surfaces align to display legible artwork, while up-close the fragmented, pixelated images illuminate the public space. The sculpture was commissioned by Hammerson and was a collaboration with Levitate Architecture and Design Studio. Media: Black powder-coated steel structure and benches with bespoke LED display. Dimensions: 13’ x 13’ x 23'

Goals

The goal of integrating moving image artwork in this public space was to engage and delight the public with unique shared experiences, create an identifiable destination, provide a dynamic canvas for local creative expression, and create a spectacular backdrop for cultural events in the city. The artwork is both a site-specific sculpture and a digital canvas for local artist take-over. Its form, scale and position responds to the urban condition - four lanes converging on a hidden square and its surrounding restaurants. The digital canvas is illuminated with generative interactive ambient imagery, color-ways for one-off events and specially commissioned artworks, including a portrait of the people of Leicester we created with hundreds of participants at the city’s Curve Theatre. The ongoing integration of the piece, both in its immediate location and the wider context of the city, was considered as much as the formal integration and includes a valuable curatorial role of a public art consultant to engage local community groups and artists in the creation of locally produced time-based commissions.

Process

The Beacons was a collaborative project on many levels. At competition stage the concept was created in close collaboration with Tim Sloan of Levitate Architecture and Design Studio. The design was further developed with Levitate and the client through animations, projection models, full scale mock-ups and technological prototypes. The content and its management, including the generative interactive animation was developed in close collaboration with creative programmer, Ross Cairns of The Workers, and the first moving image art commission was a collaboration with photographer and film-maker Leon Chew and participating community groups at the city's Curve theatre. During construction phase both artits and architect worked closely with the client's operational team and specialist fabricators ADI to ensure the successful integration of the physical structure, power and data, and the required control hardware. Lastly during commissioning we worked with the client's community outreach team to establish meaningful ongoing curatorial strategies for the sculpture.