Born and Bred is an installation that stemmed from the fascination of upcycling within the FabLab and developing the left over materials that designers leave behind after completing their work. The lab is adorned with various traces of individuals’ work, which leaves a sense of history within the space. The installation not only celebrates FabLab and what it can achieve but also celebrates the previous designers that have left their mark in the lab.
From having a gander around the lab immediately I was drawn to the bright opaque and transparent scraps of acrylic. My initial instinct was to hang these items to create a structure that consisted of several layers and that can be seen from multiple angles. Possibly a subconscious decision based on the knowing that the building previously was an abattoir. But a decision also based on the variations of acrylics general aesthetic qualities.
There were many factors to take into consideration whilst creating the installation. I needed a way for the scrap materials to have a relationship with one another when hung, which will create a successful balance in the composition. Therefore the installation will look coherent throughout. I didn’t want the materials to seem randomly placed and awkward, so to aid this using the laser cuter I created a dozen white and blue rectangles, which could be placed amongst the scrap materials. This would then produce a similar common factor throughout the installation and also help to build up a structure, therefore developing the work to create something new out of something old.
I wanted the acrylics to create the illusion of floating in mid air, so I played around with various wires, mainly strong fishing wire, which can be hard to see when placed appropriately. Factors I had to consider though were the weight of the acrylic and length of the wire so that the lines were straight whilst hung. This is a more complex process than once thought, and physics does play a part when it comes to the weight of the material. I had to bare in mind the longevity of the installation, and I feared that by using the method of hanging I was experimenting with, there was a factor that the work may falls, therefore being hazard to the Lab.
From developing the hanging work vertically, I then thought the work may look interesting if hung horizontally. By hanging horizontally I thought the installation may be physically more stable, in which case safer for the lab to hang and also will prolong the longevity of the piece. I wanted to place the acrylic sheets of scrap and the rectangles on top of each other to create a strong form and structure with layers which have a sense of depth, therefore enhancing the acrylics aesthetic qualities. Ideally the work would be hung in an area where the light shines through, whether it be artificial or natural. The light would flow through the transparent layers creating an effect similar to stained glass. I hoped that this effect of the light shining through would pick up the different shapes created by the layers and shadows may form as a result.
I created a structure out of fishing wire, which created a grid that the acrylic could attach to. However once again the acrylic proved too heavy for the structure, and in time the installation could potentially fall and become dangerous. Due to the fishing wire warping and becoming misshapen, it seemed that so too would the shapes within the installation, distorting the composition.
In an ideal world, I would create a composition similar to the image on the right, suspended from the ceiling of the Lab. But unfortunately the structure wouldn’t be stable enough. Here you can get a sense of the designers laser cute, mixed with my own rectangles that create a relationship and coherence between the both.
With the ways of hanging the acrylic just not being effective enough, I had to think of another way of developing the work. I still wanted to create a layered composition consisting of previous works and developing new shapes into the piece but it was time to downscale so that the weight wasn’t an issue. I decided to play around creating small pieces of work that had only a couple of layers as shown on the image to the right.
With these simple pieces I then decided to plan how I could show them to enhance their qualities. I still liked the idea of the work being suspended in mid air but it was unfortunately impossible for me to reach the ceiling of the lab safely within the time I had left in Lisbon. I also had the issue that the lab will be undergoing refurbishment, and there was very limited places for the work to be placed, where it could be a permanent fixture. So I decided to take the acrylic out of the main room of the Lab, and into… the toilet. A toilet installation. Really not what I had in mind but it would be something which would be a permanent fixture and therefore fulfilling my task.
I planned several variations of compositions that I then placed on the walls of both bathrooms. The brightness of the rooms, and the white tiles actually enhanced the qualities of the bright acrylics by creating a contrast, which worked well. I tried hanging work on both walls in comparison to just one and I didn’t feel it worked so well, I felt the work looked disjointed and lost.
Here is the completed final installation. I would call them painting installations, they are created as I would apply paint to a canvas. It was all about getting a harmony throughout the installation that celebrated the old work, mixed with the new structure that I was creating. The colours and pattern were chosen to stay constant throughout so that there was familiarity within both pieces. I would have liked to have seen the work hung from the ceiling so the light could have shone through to create shadows, but with the issues along the way with hanging work it wasn’t something I could have achieved in the timescale and without scafolding. I feel the installation shows the users of the lab what can be created, and gives fuel for inspiration for aspiring designers, showing the laser cutters capability to create the most intricate, delicate designs. This installation was born in the lab and then bred in the lab, developed to promote upcycling and celebrate such a fantastic environment.