Public Realm

BRUTALIST TAPESTRY

Published: March 4, 2019

Brutalist Tapestry is a large-scale installation on the south side of Beech Street Tunnel which uses data gathered from around Culture Mile to tell stories through patterns.

The artwork replaces a 21-metre section of panels on the south side of Beech Street (the ground level route opposite Barbican Underground) with a programmable ‘tapestry’ of machine-made, analogue, pixels. The artwork then instructs three moving electronic arms to alter the positioning of its pixels and translate Culture Mile data into new patterns for passers-by. In doing so, 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.

From Monday 4 March, the artwork will abstractly display data generated from social media activity from and about the local area. Hashtags relating to Culture Mile partner activity that will drive the artwork include the Barbican’s #LifeRewired season, the upcoming #BeastsOfLondon immersive experience at the Museum of London and Instagram content signposted #IGBarbican. By referencing any of these three hashtags, Culture Mile visitors have the opportunity to indirectly play a part in forming and shaping Brutalist Tapestry themselves. 

The brutalist tapestry utilises sentiment data from around the Culture Mile and its partners, this data / these “numbers” are used as the seeds for a generative pattern which continuously scrolls the length of the three tapestries. Creating a visual representation of activity within the mile, a cultural barometer.

Brutalist Tapestry was originally inspired by the hand-crafted concrete finish of the Barbican Estate; the handmade, analogue technology of its moving pixels references the bush-hammering process used to create the distinctive Barbican Estate concrete textures. It also turns the existing colour pallet of Beech Street’s cladding, designed by Simon Hay, into an experimental and reactive surface.

Since its original launch during London Design Festival, the artwork has experimented with a range of inputs to generate new facades for the tunnel, including samples from Between the Storeys, a Poet in the City partnership, and Brutalist imagery collated from around the Barbican Estate archives.