T3D IS AN ARTISTIC PARTNERSHIP
WITH AMANDA KAY AND JEROME DOBINSON
We work from our studio in Cygnet Tasmania on public art commissions primarily in Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne. Our commission based projects engage us to work alongside architects, government bodies, building users, fabricators and the community. Our intention is to bring life to a public space, creating synergy within it’s surrounding environment.
PUBLIC ART & THE CHANGING FACE OF SOCIETY
Written By: Jerome Dobinson August 2014
The technological revolution we have been exposed to in recent years has changed the way we operate in all aspects of our lives. New technologies, access to information and innovative processes have broadened what contemporary society expects from both the public space as well as the built environment.
As a global community we are more accepting of creativity, whilst being open to new ideas and experiences as we engage with our physical surroundings. Place is no longer dictated by material objects alone, instead we find ourselves occupying non physical spaces, navigating a multitude of digital environments in a given day.
In the past, an individuals physical location limited their exposure to new experiences, but with the rise of the internet and the social media phenomenon, our awareness can be transported from one side of the glode to another in an instant without having to move a muscle. This level of freedom along with an infinate choice of stimulation affects how we engage as a global community with our physical environment. The world of form becomes increasingly less attractive as we are challenged by the limitations of our physical bodies when compared to the unlimited experiences that are at our disposal whilst surfing the ocean of information that is the world wide web.
This creates a series of challenges for the built environment, public spaces and the workplace. Contemporary society increasingly demands more from their surroundings. From a functional stand point we expect a space to be efficient and easy to navigate, whilst from an aesthetic perspective we require more stimulating environments to satisfy an ever growing thirst for engaging experiences designed to excite and inspire our senses. Challenges that call on us to question how we as a technological society wish to interact with the physical world around us.
These challenges can also be viewed as opportunities. Working alongside developers, building owners, government organistaions and comercial businesses. Designers, architects, and engineers are able to develop exciting new environments that are designed to be cohesive and functional, whilst at the same time forming lasting relationships with the public in an innovative way. By creating environments that are centred around the user experience, we establish a deeper sense of belonging as a relationship is formed between the people and 'their' place. This in turn gives rise to a healthier, happier society and contributes to a greater sense of well being throughout the community.
STUDIO INTERVIEW - FEATURED ARTIST -TASMANIAN ARTS GUIDE
Written by Emma Luimes
Jerome Dobinson and Amanda Kay collaborated with Matt Westlake last year to produce Wisp, a public art installation inside the Glenorchy Police Station for the Tasmanian Government Art Site Scheme.
Dobinson and Kay are joint Creative Directors at Hobart design studio The 3rd Door (T3D). The artists work with traditional methods like painting, drawing and textiles, as well as digital imaging and design.
T3D installed large, colourful panels in the reception area and foyer that spread throughout the windows of the police station.
Dobinson says that Wisp is T3D’s attempt to make viewers inside the building feel enlivened and enriched by their surroundings, rather than objectified by their experience in the confines of the police station. Each panel was carefully designed to creative a calming atmosphere, as well as a seamless visual experience, inside a building that hosts otherwise tumultuous situations
Since finishing Wisp, the T3D team has been commissioned to produce several more public art projects around Tasmania and interstate.
For Dobinson, public art has the potential to enhance the aesthetics of a place, as well as expose people to new ideas. Their ultimate goal, he says, is to create site-specific art in collaboration with communities that reflects the community’s culture and values in a meaningful and memorable way.
How important do you think it is to incorporate art into public spaces?
JD: I believe public art plays an increasingly important role in contemporary society because it enables people to take ownership of a space, by creating an emotional connection between the user and the environment. Whether or not those emotions are positive or negative is of little concern, because in my mind, it’s the emotional response that’s important in developing a relationship between the space and the user. Once this relationship is established, the user can then begin to take ownership of a given ‘space’, and transform it into a ‘place’ within their own heart and mind. This contributes to a deeper sense of belonging which is important for any individual operating within a community. This type of connection ultimately leads to self-expression in one form or another; whether it be through critique, inspiration or engagement. The artwork as an object prompts a dialogue – that in turn promotes creative thinking, open mindedness and communication among people who have no formal education or academic understanding of fine art.
With that in mind, I think public art has the potential to break down the barriers between the general public and the concept of what ‘art’ is. Public art gives people from all walks of life an opportunity to engage in the creative process outside of the pretentiousness associated with traditional white-walled galleries. After all, we are all creative beings at our core, and self-expression is what gives rise to a rich culture and a healthy community.
Do you think the value of art in public spaces is often overlooked? And if so, why?
JD: I think it has been largely overlooked in the past. However, I do see a growing trend toward integrating art, architecture and environmental design at the early stages of planning and development. In recent years, I have seen developers, architects, planners, councils and even cities increasingly focus on creating cohesive spaces – both commercial and public, that are designed to engage users.
As people’s values change, we change the environment we inhabit. I believe forward- thinking planners are starting to implement this in their practice, by placing more emphasis and value on public art as a tool to help build a happier and healthier community.
How do you think public art influences the often tense mood of somewhere like a police station?
JD: I believe it can be a very effective tool to calm the nerves and emotions of people who enter the space. In most instances, anyone entering a police station has either been in trouble with the law, or is a victim of some sort of unsocial activity or crime; either way, these people are all experiencing high levels of stress, and this creates a tense and uncomfortable environment.
When we worked on the new Glenorchy Police Station last year, we wanted the artwork to play an important role in creating a contemporary police station that addressed these kinds of issues. We decided to develop a series of artworks for various locations within the station, each playing a part in establishing a harmonious environment for both the general public, as well as the police officers and staff.
We designed an abstract graphic treatment for the building, using colour theory to affect the mood of the space, and the people within it. The idea behind using abstract imagery was to remove the ability for someone to intellectualise the artwork. In doing so, we reduced the potential for a person under high stress to react to a particular image that might trigger a violent or emotional response.
This kind of planning and atmospheric engineering could also be applied to other high stress locations such as court rooms, train stations, hospitals and medical clinics where people often experience stress and anxiety.
In my opinion, many public spaces in Australia are lacking when it comes to creative stimuli-but that indicates that we’re in a great position to embrace the power of this art form, and begin to include it in the planning process for development.
If you could transform one aspect of public space, what would you do?
JD: I’ve really struggled with this question, because there are so many public spaces and sites I see that I would love to work with. I feel Australia is on the cusp of truly understanding and embracing the power that public art has to offer society.
As far as transforming a particular space, I would love the opportunity to get involved in the development of creating gathering spaces and walkways throughout city centres. I feel these spaces can often look bland and uninspiring. I see a great deal of potential to create spaces that uplift the spirits of those people working long hours, under fluorescent lights in standardised office blocks.
Another space I would love to transform is the city loop or a multi-storey car park. We are currently working on two railway stations in Sydney and I have come to realise that these spaces can be highly stressful locations for many people. I heard an interesting statistic recently that 37 per cent of heart attacks occur in car parks- which came as a surprise to me. I think people could really benefit from being exposed to art that enables commuters to forget about the daily stresses of the workplace as they travel to and from work.