Imagination Lab’s Creative Cultural Installation – meet our finalists

Thanks to generous funding from the ICF International Charitable Foundation, the Institute of Imagination has had the fantastic opportunity to commission a unique installation at our new Imagination Lab. Here we meet the shortlisted finalists from our open call to artists and share their installation ideas.

A child led sensory trail, a light and sound column powered by children’s imagination, physical digital playful iterations of our logo and interactive pillars reaching across the ceiling of the Lab, were just some of the 43 creative ideas we had submitted for our commission from artists based across the UK and Europe. Our panel – Institute of Imagination Trustee, and Trustee of the ICF International Charitable Foundation, Nick Viner, children’s digital media specialist Sharna Jackson and spatial designer Xavier Llarch Font – had some difficult decisions to make when shortlisting to just three applicants.

What made our three finalists stand out was the way they responded to our brief, and how this matched our aspirations for an installation in the space, as well as their ideas for giving the piece breadth and longevity.

The final decision making process will extend beyond the panel as we invite the three finalists to our lab live – recode event on 11 February. It is important to us that children and families are given an opportunity to have their say, and this event will enable attendees to hear from the finalists directly and vote for their favourite concept. A final decision will then be made and we look forward to announcing the chosen commission in the coming weeks.

The Shortlist

Anemone: An Imagination Touchstone
Designed by award-winning design engineer Shawn Brown and working with the Cornwall based creative technology firm Concept Shed, the Anemone is a life sized polished steel hemisphere, bristling with over 200 tactile toggle switches, each with an unknown function. Embracing the Institute of Imagination’s visual identity, the proposed installation sits as the central point within the square iOi logo. When one of its switches is activated an LED blinks to acknowledge a happening either in the Imagination Lab or somewhere else in the universe. Wirelessly connected, the Anemone could play an instrumental sound, operate a function in our Imagination Lab space or even send a message of imagination to world leaders. The installation could also be reprogrammed to align with the Imagination Lab’s changing programme themes or to interact with physical environments across the city and beyond.

Beading the Brain
Devised by the neuroscience arts group London Brain Project, the concept draws on the limitless connections of the brain and its ability to harness our imagination. Using over 100,000 beads, an abacus like ceiling structure will build over time to create a multi-disciplinary installation representing the brain. Responding and reacting to audiences and their reflections and ideas, a ‘pic and mix’ repository of brain beads will be available for participants to demonstrate how they used their imagination during workshops and events at the Imagination Lab. Large cables will run along the ceiling of the space with LED lights running between them. As visitors pass though the Imagination Lab, their chosen brain beads will be threaded and added to the piece to create a growing installation over the year. As the Institute of Imagination moves to its new campus, these beaded cables could then be reformatted into a fixed piece, such as a chandelier: a collective arts science installation of ideas carried forward to the permanent Institute of Imagination home.

Designed by Yorkshire-based mechanical sculptor Jim Bond, Cloud is a large stainless steel cloud suspended from the ceiling embedded with colourful LED lights and larger bright lamps. Each light can be programmed to flash, dim or illuminate in a sequence. Access to ‘The Cloud’ can be open sourced using basic programming language and through popular kits used in primary schools and at home, including Raspberry Pi and BBC microbit. The Cloud is responsive to live data: it could reflect travel information or the weather and could become a central interactive piece in the Imagination Lab, enabling participants to engage with it both when visiting the space and also remotely.

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