Arts & Culture

New color-changing installation lights up Granoff

By
Senior Staff Writer
Friday, April 6, 2012

The new permanent installation 2×5 – created by Berlin studio realities:united and on display in the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts – defies the notion of art as paintings and sculpture. Instead, it brings the creative world into the current age via kinetic light images.

This light envelops the space around the Angell Street entrance to the building, taking over more than the wall containing the two large light boxes. These boxes project combinations of five different colors. The vivid colors – as diverse in tone as a warm red and a cool blue – switch two to four times a day, giving the work a sense of change over time.

This idea of changing art inspired the artists, brothers Jan and Tim Edler, who have pieces at museums and installed on buildings around the world. At a presentation Tuesday, they explained how the color shifts are designed to temporally mimic an academic year at Brown. At the beginning of the year, the light boxes are meant to project mainly images of one color, with both boxes shining with equal intensity. As the year progresses, the shifts in color become less predictable, with the screens projecting multiple colors at once and at various intensities.

The light boxes become “less synchronized and more, as we like to say, confused, as students may get confused with the progress of the academic year,” Jan Edler said.

With so many different combinations of colors and light intensities, the work becomes “something where you come back the next day and think, ‘Wasn’t this different yesterday?'” he said. “But you can’t be sure.”

The piece, chosen by Brown’s Public Art Committee, was purchased by Percent for Art, a program that reserves one percent of the University’s budget for all new buildings and renovations for public art installations.

The Public Art Committee – composed of various faculty members and alumni – requested proposals from four artists and chose this work unanimously, said Jo-Ann Conklin, director of the David Winton Bell Gallery and a member of the committee. This installation marks the first time the Committee has chosen a light work, as they had previously chosen works of traditional art, a sound piece and even a carpet.

They said they selected this particular installation because they found it worked so well with both the interior space of the Granoff Center and the surrounding outdoor space. “It’s a minimal, modernist piece that didn’t seem to fight with the building, ” Conklin said.

She also cited how the light “activates the Angell Street courtyard,” especially at night, allowing the work to impact more people than just those in the building. “It’s a terrific piece, quite beautiful in its settings,” she said.

In this way, the piece bridges the gap between art and architecture, something that the brothers – both formally trained architects – try to accomplish in their work. Their pieces generally attempt to “make a building speak in a very simple manner – a manner similar to architecture itself,” Jan said. “In this case, it’s color, which is an important element of architecture.”

Over time, the five colors currently projected may be replaced by five more. The artists said they hope to have a Brown student design the next set of colors, making the art communicate a message even more relevant to students.