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Fearful Symmetries: a robotic performance at Tate Modern

Clare S Ryan24 August 2012

Credit: Simon Kennedy

Fearful Symmetries is a new robotic installation by Ruairi Glynn (UCL Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment), commissioned for the Tate’s Undercurrent programme at their new Tanks gallery. Clare Ryan went to see the performance live.

In the bowels of Tate Modern, an industrial cave, hidden for decades, has been awakened. As the crowd chatters expectantly outside the Tanks gallery, something lies in wait behind heavy doors.

The audience file into the cavernous space and turn to see a bright triangular light floating in the middle of the room, in stark relief against the dense darkness in the concrete tank. As we start to gather around the angular orb, it begins to slide back and forth – activated by our arrival.

Deep bass sounds bounce off the walls and the almost animal-like motions of the light captivate us. Clapping, whistling, waving audience members try and attract its attention. Murmurs of intrigue join the resonating beats – can it see us? Can it hear us? Is it motion sensitive?

As it hovers above your head, you gaze upwards and reach out your hands as the pointed, glowing orb takes you in. Guiding the audience around the space, it is playfully encouraging us to become a part of the performance.

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Sustainability: Concepts and Materiality

news editor29 May 2012

What does it mean to be sustainable? What enables or hinders sustainable behaviour?

A one-day interdisciplinary workshop on sustainability, held on 18 May and organised through collaboration between UCL Anthropology and the Environment Institute, successfully bought different disciplines together to discuss what sustainability means.

Keynote speaker Blanche Cameron, who among other roles is the founding director of RESET-Development, opened the day with a thought-provoking discussion of sustainability, particularly our relationship to nature.

Blanche argued that we need to move away from our current focus on CO2 emissions and the economy, and towards a focus on all aspects of the natural environment, in order the behave in a sustainable way. This really resonated with those attending and was picked up on again at several points throughout the day.

The first papers session on “cultural shifts” raised questions such as: at what levels do we need to be active in order to promote sustainability? Should we be acting locally? Can this influence global action?

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Smart Cities: exhibition and conference

news editor24 April 2012

Last Friday (April 20th), more than 350 members of the public attended the ‘Smart Cities: Bridging Physical and Digital’ open day, hosted by the Bartlett’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis (CASA).

The full day of talks, accompanied by the ‘Smart Cities’ exhibition, was aimed at opening a discussion on the meaning behind the Smart City and, perhaps more importantly, how to make it a reality.

Four articles covering the day’s highlights and research announcements appeared in Wired with a further two in New Scientist and finally a mention in the Independent, helping to make the event one of the most successful in the history of CASA.

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What does the future hold for London beyond the 2012 Games?

news editor20 March 2012

By PhD Planning Studies students Gabriel Silvestre & Lucy Natarajan

Many Londoners are wondering what will happen after the Olympic Games in London this summer, especially those studying planning at UCL. At the time of writing, the university is in talks with the Olympic Park Legacy Company (OPLC), the body tasked with managing the development of the Olympic 2012 venues after the Games are over. They are discussing a potential additional campus in Newham, next to the Olympic Park. Lessons from the Bartlett School of Planning’s latest London Planning Seminar demonstrate that there is a wide range of factors that can help shape the future of London’s East End.

Kathryn Firth, Chief of Design at the OPLC and Professor John Gold from Oxford Brookes University spoke at a double-bill seminar on the evening of 15th March. The event, entitled ‘Olympic Planning: London Beyond 2012’, focused on evaluating the developmental trajectories of Olympic host cities, including London and others. These distinguished speakers shared their experiences and knowledge, and explored post-Olympic scenarios for London. They asked: What does the history of the Olympics tells us about the urban outcomes? How will the planned Olympic spaces integrate with the wider area? How does London’s post-Olympic work compare with the experiences of previous urban regeneration programmes?

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