Preparation for Jason Bruges’ Brutalist Tapestry

Culture Mile presents Brutalist Tapestry, an installation by artist Jason Bruges in Beech Street Tunnel

Artist Jason Bruges has created Brutalist Tapestry, the latest large-scale installation commissioned by Culture Mile that is also part of London Design Festival 2018 and launches on Saturday 15 September.

Brutalist Tapestry is a kinetic and interactive installation in Beech Street Tunnel (opposite Barbican Underground), inspired by the hand-crafted concrete finish of the Barbican Estate. The artwork replaces a 21-metre section of panels on the south side of Beech Street Tunnel with a programmable ‘tapestry’ of analogue pixels. This handmade and analogue technology of the moving pixel is a reference to the bush-hammering process that was used to create the distinctive Barbican Estate concrete textures.

The artwork incorporates three moving electronic arms, to physically alter the position of the pixels and gradually reveal Culture Mile generated patterns and designs to passers-by. The pixels use the existing colour palette of Beech Street to subvert the tunnel wall and create an alternative narrative for Beech Street.

The resulting Brutalist Tapestry reflects its surroundings and is drawn from creative content in Culture Mile. Whether imagery, sound or data the artwork translates this into physical marks on the tunnel wall. Brutalist Tapestry prompts questions about the future possibilities for this space and marks the next stage of Culture Mile’s long-term ambition to transform Beech Street.

Content to include:

  • Culture Mile core partners, including the London Symphony Orchestra performance of Bernstein’s Wonderful Town, conducted by Sir Simon Rattle and recorded live at the Barbican, newly released on the LSO Live label
  • Images from around Culture Mile – which stretches from Farringdon to Moorgate – showcasing the architecture and events that have taken place within the area
  • Heritage images such as Barbican construction workers
  • Working with community members to celebrate stories from the local area by creating and collating content such as audio interviews, poetry and images
  • Working with the Culture Mile Network and local businesses in a second phase of content in 2019

Jason Bruges commented, “I love the idea of ‘hacking’ an urban environment, working within site-specific constraints, and creating a meaningful intervention. I see us creating a catalyst for change within Culture Mile. The site is a thoroughfare and unloved, however it’s an important entrance to an epicentre of cultural activity.  I really hope our work will bring a change of perception, so that visitors begin to understand this important passageway as a journey into the Barbican environment.”

Catherine McGuinness, Policy Chairman, City of London Corporation, said, “Jason Bruges’ Brutalist Tapestry is the latest in a series of installations and interventions across Culture Mile, signalling the first steps in the animation and transformation of the area. Beech Street is a vital east-west route and the backbone of Culture Mile and it is a major priority for improvement to make it a more welcoming environment. Brutalist Tapestry is inspired by the Barbican Estate and is a testing ground for using Beech Street as a cultural space turning the 21-metre installation in to an open canvas. It will be in place for at least a year and I can’t wait to see Jason’s installation come to life.”

Technical details:

  • The artwork is a mechanical pixel display
  • Brutalist Tapestry consists of 2,310 movable pixels
  • The pixels have no integrated automation, they instead rotate independently on 10mm diameter stainless steel spindles
  • The artwork uses a mechanical gantry system designed to rotate each column of pixels as it moves along the tunnel
  • The artwork uses an integrated sensing system for accurate positioning of the pixels

Jason Bruges is well known for creating works that manifest on an architectural scale that live at the intersection between art, technology and culture. The studios approach to using technology creates a sense of magic for audiences, acting as a platform for telling stories and creating engaging immersive experiences.

Plans for Culture Mile were announced in July 2017. Led by the City of London Corporation with the Barbican, Guildhall School, London Symphony Orchestra and the Museum of London, the five core partners will lead the transformation of the area over the next decade and beyond, improving their offer to audiences with imaginative collaborations, outdoor programming and events seven days a week. Links between venues will be improved and major enhancements to the streets and wider public realm will enliven the area which, as Culture Mile expands and flourishes, will be regenerated. Crossrail’s new Elizabeth Line connections at Farringdon and Moorgate will make it much easier to travel to, and from, the City. Around 1.5 million additional visitors a year will be within a 45-minute journey of the area when the Elizabeth Line becomes fully operational in December 2019 and the North-South Thameslink line is upgraded.