Harvard University is in the middle of a three year programme entitled ‘The Lab’; a platform for, amongst other things, experimenting with, and breaking the boundaries between, Art and Science. They hope it will help with their learning environment, spreading ideas between faculties and sowing the seeds of new ideas. Its main focus is an exhibition space within Harvard, but there are larger, international, links at play too. There’s a lot going on, especially with regards to what they term ‘Artscience’ and if that floats your boat I suggest you check it out here.
A major feather in their project’s cap is ‘The Divine Comedy’ three major art installations by internationally renowned artists Olafur Eliasson, Tomás Saraceno, and Ai Weiwei designed to bring together aspects of art, design and architecture. Copenhagen born artist Eliasson now works in Berlin where he creates architectural installations, often with strong references to light. Saraceno also plays with the idea of light; his works are often transparent, structured shapes reminiscent of bubbles, clouds, pods or greenhouse biomes. Finally, current UK media darling, Ai Weiwei (of the infamous Tate Sunflower Seeds) uses art to protest against the Chinese government once more with his installation Untitled (2011) – a memorial and beacon for thousands of schoolchildren who died due to poor building standards in the 2008 Sichuan earthquake.
Imagine working or studying there, and being surrounded every day by these amazing works of art! I love sculpture, and I imagine it would be incredibly inspiring to be around such pieces. Inspired, I got to work early and took a few quick shots of some of the sculptures we have at UEA. We may not have anything so ostentatious or star-studded, but we’re not a barren cultural wasteland either. Some people think UEA campus is ugly, and I will admit the top section is an archetypical 1970s concrete jungle. But if it wasn’t so compact it would have eaten into the beautiful field and broad and woodland we have on the other side of campus.
Reclining Woman, Henry Moore (1962) View of the field through ‘Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 3’, Henry Moore (1961) Two Piece Reclining Figure No. 3 (Moore, 1961) Proximity, Anne Dilman, 2005-6 Extrapolation, Liliane Lijn (1962) Variations on a Square, Henry H. Clyne (1964)
Walking round campus I was struck by the silence. The transition between bustling term-time and quiet holidays is always a weird one. On one hand I spend most of the term-time wishing there were shorter queues at the shop, or people would stop playing Frisbee out on the grass whilst I’m sat in the office. I think the old-fashioned idea of a university as a centre of academic discussion and inspiration is something to uphold. I know some academics who think that teaching undergraduates is a waste of time, and that crowds of students drinking in the square or barbecuing on the grass will detract from such an aim. But, queue-less coffee shops aside, I think campus seems sort of empty without them. Sort of like university wouldn’t need to exist as such an institution of we weren’t teaching as well as doing our own research.