APSECT’s Urban&Public team, together with artist Paul Sloan are collaborating on a public art installation to enrich key laneways in the city of Adelaide. Conceived as ‘urban chandeliers’, the Silent Witness brings a series of prismatic optical totems to Pitt Street and Bank Street, replacing colonial symbols with luminous kaleidoscopic landmarks to wash the streets in a spectrum of coloured refractive light.
Belfast-born, Adelaide-based artist Paul Sloan explores the intersection of science and art, working across mediums from painting and sculpture to photography, installations and sound-based performances, that draw on multiple landscapes (cultural to natural) laced with themes of revolution.
Represented in Adelaide today by Hugo Michell Gallery, Sloan had first become fascinated by the geometries of light as a young photographer’s assistant. He later created works that either bent or concentrated spectral light with particular precision, and his proposal for the Silent Witness totems came after his detailed study of prisms and their remarkable refractive powers. For this installation, he developed the rhombic dodecahedron shaped prism in conjunction with Dr. Michael Pittolo from Zeiss optics, and Dr. Andrew Allan from Adelaide University.
ASPECT’s Urban&Public team focuses specifically on the wayfinding, environmental graphics and public art elements of place making, in support of broader urban design strategies. It has a string of art-led urban renewals to its credit, including Hart Mill in Port Adelaide, Angel Place in Sydney and Windsor Plaza in Melbourne. The Pitt Street totems will be more chandelier-like, with the rhombic prisms of optical resin arranged in a constellation above a Carrara marble plinth. By geometric contrast, the Bank Street totem is more a linear tower with a string of rhombic prisms finely framed in mirrored stainless steel, again on a marble plinth.
In both installations, the prisms will refract daylight, and be lit at night by spotlighting concealed in their marbles plinths, which perform more than a mere symbolic or aesthetic role – elevating the prisms above the predetermined ‘blinding line’ to avoid interference with night-time traffic. The materials are engineered for an outdoor life span of 10 to 20 years with maintenance.