Wednesday, 12 October 2011

Animatronics, a Beekeeper and Windscreen Wipers

By Abi Spinks, Assistant Curator
What links an animatronics expert, a beekeeper in Berlin and a manufacturer of industrial windscreen wipers? The answer is Klaus Weber’s forthcoming exhibition at Nottingham Contemporary. Along with a team of engineers from the University of Nottingham, all have been involved in creating artworks for this German artist’s solo show.

The exhibition includes several new commissions which Weber proposed specifically for Nottingham Contemporary’s building and I have worked alongside the artist on bringing these artworks to fruition.  The process as a whole has been both exciting and taxing – in ways I could not  have imagined. One of the things I find enjoyable about my job is the need to develop new and diverse areas of expertise, every few months.  The journey from an artist’s idea, through stages of research and development and onto a (sometimes) physical end result, can lead to the most unexpected conversations and experiences.  

For example, how does one produce realistic and continuous rain, indoors? This was but one conundrum I faced for the new artwork, ‘If you leave me I’m not coming’, in which the 7 ½ metre wide window of Gallery 2 will be turned into a giant windscreen, complete with oversized wipers and never-ending indoor rain. To tackle this, we turned to the aforementioned team of engineers at the Environmental Technology Centre at University of Nottingham, who have brought their expertise to one of the largest and most technically challenging commissions we have hosted yet.  Working out precisely the volume of water required and the exact droplet size which would allow for even distribution across the glass is one challenge we have set their scientific brains to. 

Oversized wipers for this artwork, each over a metre long, are currently being designed for production by a company in Redditch, which is more  accustomed to supplying wiper solutions for the Singapore Metro and large scale naval ships. Each wiper works tirelessly to clear away the “rain” which continually obscures the view both into and out of the gallery. This artwork functions as an alternative (and very suitably British) public fountain and alludes to the transparency of the art world, as it works to allow the public outside the gallery brief glimpses of the inside, before the eternal drizzle takes over again. 

 So what of the animatronics expert and the beekeeper?  Well, from 22 October, you’ll have to come and find out for yourself.

1 comment:

  1. The importance of a windscreen cannot be underestimated. Far more than a sheet of glass protecting you from the elements, a windscreen is a safety, strength and sight necessity.

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