David Boultbee – BREAD art


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The Glass Work listens for your tweet and plays the photo you send on glass gongs.

Each gong has a different pitch, the tune played is determined by the colour of the pixels in the photograph. Lights contained within the gongs flash as they’re struck. The work is visual as well as sonic.

Every photo sounds different, but itʼs impossible to guess what its original content was. This is the latest of a series of pieces that examine how we store, perceive and experience the huge volume of data that surrounds us. 

Increasingly immersive, everyday commodities, we more and more trust valuable datas to the ephemeral cloud with little understanding about how they’re transmitted, who owns them, how secure they are and whether we’ll be able to access them in perpetuity. 

We continue to complain about telemarketing and spam, while happily connecting devices that contain our entire worlds to faceless multinational corporations over insecure WiFi in cafes and busses.

The Glass Work takes your data and transmits it as photons and reverberations with public disregard for your privacy. Ever diminishing, each transmission lives on in the space in which it was created in the echos of the building and memories of those present.

Striking, playful, interactive – The Glass Work makes data sensory while gently inviting us to question our relationship with it – how we value it, care for it and share it with others.

The gongs are contained within a tapering monolith. Its profile matches the furnace chimney of St Helens’ glassworks. It leans forward with the architectural confidence of the townʼs brutalist carparks. It was envisaged that the work might one day return to the carparks, looking out over St Helens, serenading the town and singing its song.

This continues the artist’s integration of data and Twitter to create collaborative interactive artworks that began with Ffotohive, commissioned for -Diffusion 2013. This work can be installed as-is, but also presents scope for development for this year’s festival. It could, for example, sound and display a curated set of photos from around Cardiff and thus play the song of the city. Engagement workshops for schools or community groups that use the work as the foundation to a valuable exploration of a locality could also be developed.

Commissioned by FACT and Heart of Glass, The Glass Work was developed in collaboration with young people from St Helens and reflects these collective journeys and encounters.

The glass elements were developed with and manufactured by blowers at World Of Glass in St Helens – a project partner. The work was toured through community centres in St Helens before being installed in FACT, Liverpool in November 2016