OU-TOPOS, 2016

Taking influence from the idea of utopian futures/ landscapes. Rob has explored the often-overlooked structures which we encounter in day to day life. Places that function for a singular purpose and are often associated with unnerving tension and properties of fear.


In 1516 Sir Thomas More wrote the first ‘Utopia.’ He coined the word ‘utopia’ from the Greek ou-topos meaning ‘no place’ or ‘nowhere.’ This was a pun on the almost identical Greek word eu-topos meaning a 'good place'.


While reading Marc Auge – Non-places: Introduction to an anthropology of supermodernity. Rob has became increasingly interested in the notion of a non-place. A space created for functionality and how the aesthetics aren’t necessarily considered in the design.


The series of three light boxes are to act as basic forms taken from the underpass, by moving these objects onto a gallery context creates a tension within the space reminiscent of the underpass structure. Coinciding with the lightbox installation a soundtrack was played to enhance the tension further in the soft- low- light conditions. Familiar sounds of an underpass in a stretched and uncomfortable playback, causing the viewer to experience this unease.


In the most recent phase of the project Rob deconstructed the underpass further by removing the boxes from the space and leaving the strip lights, raw and fragile, on the floor. The sound and light installation confronted the viewer as they entered the space. Withholding information from the viewer causes an interaction between the installation and the audience, in an attempt to make sense of the not always apparent missing information.


The working processes are visible through this project from the initial exposure image of the underpass in Northumberland, to the final raw strip light installation.

Footsteps - Rob Bowman
Leaves - Rob Bowman