In the fall of 2016, a Brown alumnus approached the School of Engineering with the idea to sponsor a student designed timepiece sculpture to accompany the new Engineering Research Center (ERC). After a semester of searching for a home for this project, Timepiece ended up in the hands of Brown STEAM.
"Infinite Possibility," the official name of the sculpture, was installed in May 2019, and is undergoing final placement adjustments.
context + goals
The two requirements the alumnus had for the project were:
The sculpture would mark the passing of time
The sculpture would last as long as the ERC
These were then followed up by two needs from the School of Engineering and the Public Arts committee:
The sculpture must be low maintenance
The sculpture must fit within the larger public arts portfolio of the school
We as a team decided on one more absolute must:
The sculpture must lend itself to interactability and appeal to students from all over campus, not just the School of Engineering
status - completed
length - January 2017 / September 2019
role - project manager
process + development
The project began as an open call from STEAM to the Brown student body regarding the opportunity to become involved in the school's first student designed public piece of art. My role during this period was focused on guiding ideation and exploration on how time can be measured, and communicating these ideas to the Public Arts Committee, School of Engineering, and the alumnus.
After a semester of design development, four ideas were proposed by four different student teams. The final Mobius strip idea was selected because it met all of the criteria outlined at the conception of the project, and was popular among students in group review sessions. Part of the appeal behind this concept is that it is essentially a sun dial and is able to passively tell time. Once the concept was decided, though, we had to investigate how exactly we were going to turn the design into reality.
One of the ways we accomplished this was by working with the sun dial artist Bill Gottesman to understand how exactly time is measured using the sun. We quickly discovered that the green space in front of the Engineering Research Center receives a limited amount of sunlight during the day, so an hourly sundial was not possible. Instead, we experimented with various noonmark analemma variations. The noonmark denotes the sun's position in the sky at noon every day, which coincidentally also happens to be a 2D infinity loop.
Once we finalized the shape and time telling mechanism, we reached out to fabricators for estimates. We ultimately decided to partner with Sultz Fabrication because of the enthusiasm they expressed in working with a student group. They conducted the structural analysis review for Timepiece and created the final sculpture.
After nearly a year of fabrication, the piece was ready for installation. Timepiece, which is officially "Infinite Possibility," was brought up from Dobbs Ferry, NY to Providence, RI using a specialized moving company, and installed in front of the ERC using a crane.
Because precision is so important with such a large piece, we used data gathered across several months after installation to determine the exact rotation required for maximum accuracy before final securing it.
Installation occurred in May 2019, and was fully secured after final adjustments in January 2020. While Timepiece has been quite an important yet trying experience, I look forward to the day I visit campus as an alumnus and see the culmination of my undergraduate work stand the test of time.
1. Team picture on the day of installation; image courtesy of the Brown University News Team // 2. Concept for Timepiece by Linda Park '19 // 3. Noon mark implementation concept // 4. CAD model of the Mobius strip by Ethan Mok '19 and David Schurman '20 // 5. Trip to Sultz to view the fabrication facility and the steel finish samples // 6. Model of the sun's path on the analemma over the course of a year by Kenji Endo '18 // 7. In progress photo of Timepiece welding // 9. Overview of installation progress // 9. Image of spotlight hitting the analemma just after noon // 10. The team's signatures etched onto the analemma // 11. Photo of me sitting on the sculpture after final adjustments. // 11. Official Brown University News Video on "Infinite Possibility"