Date: 
Tuesday, May 22, 2018 - 14:30

  

Measuring nearly nine metres tall and firing out vapour rings, a monumental new artwork thought to be the world’s biggest ceramic sculpture has been unveiled at the Eden Project today (Tuesday, May 22).

∞ Blue (Infinity Blue) is an immersive, 20-tonne installation that pays homage to cyanobacteria, one of the world’s smallest living beings.

It is the centrepiece of Invisible Worlds, a major new permanent exhibition at the home of the famous Biomes in Cornwall, opening to the public this Friday, May 25.

The exhibition reveals the untold and unseen stories of our planet beyond our senses: too big, too small, too fast, too slow and too far away in space and time.

∞ Blue has been created by the acclaimed duo Studio Swine (Super Wide Interdisciplinary New Explorers), Japanese architect Azusa Murakami and British artist Alexander Groves.

The spectacular new structure contains 32 cannons which project scented vapour rings into the exhibition space of the newly-renovated Core education building.

On the surface of the work, deep blue clay and oxide glazes reflect local mining history and the necessity for oxygen in the process. The textural pattern on the ceramic tiles emerges from an algorithm based on reaction-diffusion systems found in creatures from zebras to coral.

Studio Swine said: “Around three billion years ago, cyanobacteria first developed oxygenic photosynthesis. In doing so, they changed the nature of our planet. 

“In the same way that artists of the past would depict the sacred, our sculpture ∞ Blue gives physicality to the invisible elements our existence depends on; our breathable atmosphere, microbial life and deep time.”

The scent of the vapour tells a layered, 4.5 billion-year history of the atmosphere. Studio Swine collaborated with Paris-based perfume house Givaudan to develop fragrances inspired by the installation, using the aromas of primordial worlds as a starting point for new sensual experiences. 

Film is an integral component of Studio Swine’s practice. Accompanying the sculpture will be a film directed by the artists in collaboration with Petr Krejčí. The film charts the artwork’s origins in the sea off the Cornish coast in otherworldly, sci-fi-inspired cinematography. 

Dr Jo Elworthy, Eden’s Director of Interpretation, said: “Studio Swine have created an installation of quite transcendent magnificence which we are confident will captivate all who see it.  The artists have shown immense skill in distilling a complex scientific idea into a unique monument to the unseen engines of life that surround us all.”

Invisible Worlds opens with a packed programme of related activities for the half-term holiday. From May 25 to 27, Guerrilla Science’s Mutant Fly Circus will be bringing their troupe of human fruit flies to Eden, seeking out and celebrating human differences – from red hair to rolled tongues.

From May 28 to 31, The Unsung Heroes of Planet Earth will bring fungus-themed opera to Eden. The hilarious show is an energetic, environmental performance that brings the magical story of tree communication to life.

From June 1 to 3, the BBC One Show’s resident scientist Marty Jopson will host a live microscopy show. He will take visitors on a journey from everyday life down into the realm of microscopic wonders.

The Ministry of Science will offer hands-on experiments as they journey into the world of mighty microbes. Sciencedipity will be on hand with activities, experiments and interactive displays. The Travelling Tardigrades will see Eden's storytellers introducing visitors to some special microbial friends with incredible tales about microscopic monsters.

∞ Blue has been curated by placemaking agency Futurecity. Invisible Worlds is supported by Wellcome, The Wolfson Foundation and Arts Council England.

Jerry Tate, Partner at Tate Harmer and Grimshaw’s original project architect for the Core building, said: “We strongly believe in the connection between nature and learning so our design for this newly-refurbished building is centred around nature’s structures and naturally occurring geometries. 

“It is fitting that the Invisible Worlds installation, which tells the story of the small microbial drivers of big natural systems, will be the first exhibition in this improved new space.”

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