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LSBU academics work with Borough Polytechnic alumnus Gustav Metzger

15 January 2013
Gustav Metzger null object

LSBU academics asked German artist Gustav Metzger to think about nothing - they extracted data from his encephalogram and used it to carve a block of stone

Jo Joelson and Bruce Gilchrist have taught on the BSc (Hons) Product and Engineering Product Design courses for a number of years. They are also practicing artists and between 2006 and 2009 Jo was an AHRC-funded Senior Research Fellow in the Faculty of Engineering Science and the Built Environment. As London Fieldworks, Jo and Bruce work collaboratively across social engagement, sculpture, installation, video and architecture, situating works both in the gallery and in the landscape. The notion of ecology as a complex inter-working of social, natural, and technological worlds is central to and investigated through much of their practice including their new work, NULL OBJECT: Gustav Metzger thinks about nothing.

Gustav Metzger is an internationally acclaimed London-based artist who participated in the development of this new art work. Born in Nuremberg, Germany in 1926 Gustav was evacuated to England in 1939. From 1945 to 1953 he studied at various art schools including David Bomberg's class at the Borough Polytechnic - which is now London South Bank University! In 1959 he developed the concept of auto-destructive art and he continues to explore the opposing yet interdependent forces such as destruction and creation.

At the centre of NULL OBJECT a computer-brain interface was linked with industrial manufacturing technology to produce a sculptural object in Portland stone. Using bespoke software London Fieldworks produced 3-dimensional shape information from EEG readings of Metzger's brainwaves as he attempted to think about nothing. This data was translated into control instructions for a KUKA manufacturing robot to carve out the shapes from the interior of a block of stone to create a void space. A timely addition and challenge to the present climate of technological evolution and increasing cybernetic augmentation, NULL OBJECT offers an alternate model for a creative, non-invasive interface between body, mind and machine.

NULL OBJECT is being exhibited in the WORK gallery, Kings Cross until 09 February. It is also featured on the front cover of Domus (January 2013) magazine which includes an extensive interview with London Fieldworks.

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