Jason Bruges designs Sunderland Station lightwall

Jason Bruges Studio has designed a 144m-long lightwall artwork that will run along a platform at Sunderland Station.

The consultancy’s concept is to create ghostly characters which appear behind the glass wall opposite passengers waiting for a train. This idea developed as behind the glass wall is a disused platform, which has been bricked up. The work is part of the station’s £7m refurbishment organised by Nexus, which operates Tyne and Wear’s public transport system. Nexus is rolling out a £300m capital investment programme across the Metro network.

Jason Bruges Studio was appointed to the work by Nexus, following a three-way tender process held late last year.

The consultancy was tasked with creating an artwork along the 144m-long, 3m-high glass wall on platform three, as part of a refurbishment by Reid Jubb Brown Architecture.

Bruges says, ‘Nexus wanted something that would bring light into the underground station. This was to pick up on the name of Sunderland’s football stadium – The Stadium of Light – and was also based on the way that miners would see the light as they came up to the surface.’

He adds, ‘We looked at the size of the wall, and thought, “What an amazing canvas!”.’

The design used treats each glass brick as an individual pixel, each of which has 255 different states between being off and on. This creates a huge, low-resolution 755×15 ‘pixel’ video screen.

Each time a train leaves the station, the wall will be blank, but shortly after the train has pulled away, the first character will appear. One by one, more characters will arrive, reflecting the build-up of passengers on the real station opposite, until eventually a small crowd has gathered.

Each character will have its own behaviour. For example, two might stand together as friends, or a character might appear with a dog or read a newspaper. As the train pulls in to obscure them, they will disappear.

A system of sensors will register when a train has arrived, and what sort of train it is. This is important as four different types of train use the station – run by different operators – all of which stop at different parts of the platform and obscure different parts of the wall. DMX is likely to be the control protocol for the artwork.
Bruges says, ‘It’s a really lovely space to work in. Our work is all about movement and space and time, so this is perfect really.’

Huw Lewis, head of corporate communications at Nexus, describes the Sunderland refurbishment as ‘a very unique project’, adding, ‘We were specifically looking for an artist who could work to bring light into the station.’

The installation will be in place when the scheduled refurbishment completes, set to be in April 2010.

Bright on track:

  • Three train operators use Sunderland Station – Tyne and Wear Metro, Northern Rail and Grand Central, which operates a direct service to London
  • Artist Morag Morrison and photographer Julian Germain are also working on commissions for the station
  • Newcastle-based consultancy Gardiner Richardson recently created a new identity for the Tyne and Wear Metro (DW 21 May)

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  • Mackem Mover November 30, -0001 at 12:00 am

    An exciting proposition to lift an incredibly dreary station. Is this the start of big things by City of Sunderland? Sunderland has for so long been in the shadows of its nemesis across the water. Its about time Sunderland has something to be proud of. Good on you, Nexus. Let’s see City of Sunderland step upto the plate as well.

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