Department of Education, Employment & Workplace Relations | ACT | 2010

Posted on May 11, 2010 by Ruth Allen

Our One World Island was purchased by Walker Corporation and installed as the feature wall in the foyer of the newly constructed Department of Education, Employment, & Workplace Relations building, 50 Marcus Clarke St, Acton, Canberra, ACT. The work was purchased from the Canberra Glassworks to celebrate the building’s landmark energy efficiency and was created by Ruth during a residency at the Canberra Glassworks in 2009.

The concept behind the artwork, Our One World Island, is to bring attention to the importance of the world’s oceans and the need to take care of them.

Our oceans cover 71 per cent of the planet and largely govern our climate by performing the majority of the world’s photosynthesis, the production of our oxygen. They support organisms such as phytoplankton which clean as much CO2 from the atmosphere each year as all rainforests.

Evidence suggests ocean currents are slowing down and/or could stop if cold fresh water makes its way into the Arctic and North Atlantic oceans. This could occur if global warming causes large-scale melting of arctic sea ice and the Greenland ice sheet. This halt in the current could take centuries or just a few years. Either would cause planet-wide devastating changes in climate.

The Dymaxion Map, was created by mathematician, inventor and futurist, R. Buckminster Fuller. The Dymaxion Map is widely considered the most accurate rendition of the relationships of the earth’s continents.

By turning the globe into a series of triangles Fuller could unfold the Earth from a sphere into a flat plane and detail the land formations and their relationships to each other with tremendous accuracy. Our One World Island encapsulates these ideas to create a poetic expression of the fragility of our planet bringing to the forefront a consciousness of the world’s oceans.

The work was developed to satisfy the context and design of the foyer, surrounded by glass and highly visible through the night the Dymaxion map was erected onto a wall of Barrisol with a series of 1400 LED lights installed behind, the wall is programmed to change colour at certain time durations.

My concept for the illumination of the wall has two elements, the chosen colours and time/duration. The colours are in response to seasonal shifts; in the crisp icy cool of winter a warm earthy range would illuminate the foyer space creating a sense of comfort and wellbeing, in the heat of summer the colours would be changed to a crisp cool spectrum offering refreshing respite from the intensity of the heat and humidity. My choice of saturation was low creating a subtle suggestion of this warmth and coolness to purposefully allow the focus to be directed towards the Dymaxion map and the concept & content of the work Our One World Island.

The desired time duration of the colour loop was to be a 30-hour cycle, with a suggested hold of an hour for each colour with a half hour fade in/out time to the next. The notion being; if one travelled passed and/or arrived at the building at the same time each day the colour/mood would be different, the work would be seen to be evolving, alive and withholding a personality, inspiring investigation and inviting a sense of a relationship with the work. The change in colour would not be noticeable if you stood in front of the work for a short period but rather it would be recognised if you were in a meeting for an hour and returned to the foyer, I believe the speed of change would support a calm and grounded mood within the building.

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