If you were selecting something of your own that signified the modern world, what would you chose and how would you commemorate it? Would you select hardrives, an ethernet cable, a pair of trainers, a broom or a deconstructed VHS player and VHS showreel? These were the choices of staff and students at Oxford Brookes University for the artist Alice Anderson to create “Time Capsules”, with her own addition of Parisian café furniture, all of which she encased in rusty steel memorials in the Glass Tank at the Headington Campus of Oxford Brooks University.
Why these choices? Harriet Butler chose hardrives which contained a record of her life from 2004-5 until 2012 but are now obsolete, a victim of commercial and technical pressures to replace and renew; Vy Tran’s ethernet cable represents how the internet and connectivity has taken over modern digital life; Susannah Canning’s trainers celebrate the places she travelled at home and across the world between 2007 and 2016 and are a reminder of the increasingly itinerant world; Veronica Cordova De La Rosa broom symbolises the many people across the globe who work as slaves or earn minimum wages for menial tasks and Adrian Pawle’s deconstructed VHS plater and VHS showreel from 2000 recognises the pace of technological change and the obsolescence and loss that results from this. Alice Anderson’s outdoor Parisien café furniture has a double meaning – while it celebrates the enjoyment for many people in meeting friends and relaxing in outdoor cafes, even in inclement climates such as in the UK, but reflects on how this changed with the terrorist attacks in Paris on 13th November in Paris that left 130 people dead.
Anderson’s work “Elevator Data” (2015) is an elevator entirely woven in copper thread, with the idea that the thread records the object through its new physical manifestation as a copper ghost, which links with work in her solo exhibition at the Wellcome Collection in 2015 and the ball and spool included in Saatchi’s 2016 exhibition “Champagne Life” and she also reflects on how everything has been reduced to digital code with her pastel bar code portraits.
The award-winning John Henry Brookes Building has artwork installations by Annie Cattrell and Andrew Small with the most recent installation, the “Rain Pavilion”, being the result of a competition with the Fine Art and Architecture students to develop “innovative and experimental ideas” for a pavilion at the front of the building which was won by Charlotte Birch and Alexandra Horsman and has involved about 20 staff and students in its execution - benches around a pool with tall metal flowers collecting water and sending it gurgling down the stems or overspilling the canopy as in a woodland glade.