ANDREW McWILLIAMS
Posted Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Jason Bruges Studio

Jason Bruges is a well-known name in the interactive arts & architecture in the UK. Nine years ago he started a studio that:

"create[s] interactive spaces and surfaces that sit between the worlds of architecture, interaction design and site-specific installation art. Our projects range from large-scale building facades and public art to interactive interior environments and products"

There is a whole team (17 credited on the website), producing under this name and they take on a number of large scale commissions in any given year.

Looking through the 2009/2010 work, there seems to a preoccupation with repeating forms, particularly illuminated forms. The form could be LED/OLED's, pandas, glass panels, or so on - but they are always arranged in a simple pattern or series, most commonly a 2 dimensional grid. Each repeated item has the capacity to move or illuminate, but no one form is ever dominant over another in terms of it's abilities or importance. Each form is only different from each of it's peers by virtue of it's location within the space.

This 'equal rights' placement of forms reminds me of the pixels in a computer screen. All have the same capabilities, but and their state at any given moment is a function of their position with respect to all other pixels.

In work like the Platform 5 installation, at Sunderland Station in the UK, this metaphor is almost too indistinct to be called a metaphor. In work like Wind to Light, this metaphor is stretched. Each light is powered by something beyond the control of the installation - the weather. So it's not just responding to the environment - it's life (i.e. it's power source) depends on the environment. Which explains why when I went to see it, there was nothing there! The weather was too calm.

What does hold is the concept of autonomous units, whose potential for contribution to the whole is no more or less than that of each of it's peers. This appears to be one of the calling cards of Bruges work. This article is the first in a series of short written investigations into major studios, and i'm interested to see how commonly i'll find this concept in other work.



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