The Panopticons

The Panopticons are a set of four futuristic sculptures set in the rural settings of Blackburn, Burnley, Pendle and Rossendale districts of East Lancashire, England. The powers-that-be commissioned the sculptures as gateway pieces and a symbol of the renaissance of the area.

Whatever the reason, the results are some fantastic works of art:

The Atom

Photo: Tony-H [Flickr]

Photo: chillghetti [Flickr]

The Atom, a giant egg-shaped, bronze-coated sculpture designed by Peter Meacock with Katarina Novomestka and Architects WCW. It is located in the Wycoller Country Park in Pendle.


Photo: Ian Lawson

The Panopticon for Blackburn is Colourfields, a collaboration between Jo Rippon Architecture and artist Sophie Smallhorn. The piece, which apparently is some sort of a striped walkway (correct me if I'm wrong, guys), is built on a former cannon battery.

Haslingden Halo

Photo: bitrot [Flickr]

Photo: petehud [Flickr]

The Halo, designed by John Kennedy of LandLab, is a steel lattice structure on a tripod. After dark, it's lit with LEDs to give the sculpture the effect of hovering above the town of Haslingden in Rossendale.

Singing Ringing Tree

Photo: StewieD [Flickr]

Last (and my favorite!) in the series is the Singing Ringing Tree, a musical sculpture overlooking Burnley. The sculpture was designed by MIke Tonkin and Anna Liu, and was made from galvanized steel pipes. When the wind blows, the "tree" sings an eerie tune:

[YouTube Link]

ummm.... I'll need to look it up, but I think the *original* "Panopticon" was Jeremy Bentham's design for an 18th century prison that wouldn't require very many guards to mind all the convicts.

Is the use of "panopticon" here intended to be perjorative? They sure are ugly & pointless -- what a waste of taxpayer resources.
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Too bad none of the pictures includes something to give an idea of scale. It's pretty much impossible to get a good idea of how big these things are.

I have no idea why the first poster thinks the use of "panopticon" might be pejorative. Perhaps he doesn't understand what the word means.
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um... Perhaps because the original coining of the word was for an PRISON, and it isn't the brightest idea to name your supposedly uplifting artwork after prisons?

Yeah, taking it back to the Greek roots it means something along the lines of being able to "see all" within it (because it was a round prison... guards could mind the convicts easier). But it was still a prison -- I wouldn't name my sculptures Sing Sing, Abu Ghraib, or Devil's Island either. Dumbasses should have coined a new name.
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Sid: "greekly" the name signification stands. Historically it's another matter I agree. Those circular prisons were renowned to be the hardests, even if, and you will appreciate that ;), they maximed the ratio convitcs/tax paid wardens.

As for the art, we've seen much worse. Installing the Singing Ringing Tree in your garden is a perfect way to settle that old neighbourhood grudge.
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If you or I left this crap lying around in these attractive settings, we would be taken to court, fined and ordered to remove them immediately. Instead, hardworking people, with a life, have had money taken from their pockets to support the wasters who do this.
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We are very proud of our new sculpture in Rossendale to the extent that i am organising a May bank holiday event at the Halo this year with local accustic bands and residents suppling the entertainment
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The Atom actually seems to fit the landscape in an odd sort of way, something about its rolling curves. I also really like the Singing Ringing Tree -- its hilltop location is great, and it's not so big that it's going to spoil anyone's view. I actually think it reminds me more of a tornado though.

The other two, I agree are pretty craptacular. Colourfields just seems pointless, and while having a glowing UFO hovering around might seem cool, in reality it's incredibly intrusive on the landscape, and annoying for anyone who might have to live near it.

But OTOH, you see this sort of thing in cities all the time -- random abstract sculptures seem to wind in parks, subway stations, outside hospitals, banks, etc. Are these any worse than that?
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@John O'Donnell and Sid Morrison:

You can all groan about the cost of public art installations like this, but the fact of the matter is that they often generate economic activity that far exceeds their cost. The best recent example is probably Christo’s "The Gates," which was temporarily installed in Manhattan’s Central Park in 2005. That installation generated over $250 million in economic activity in New York City, compared to independent estimates of only $5-10 million in installation costs (which were privately funded in any case). Admittedly, this project isn’t at the scale of "The Gates," and it’s not in the heart of a major metropolitan center, but the area will likely see economic benefit (that’s why they did it, after all). Of course, you still may not like the pieces as art, which is fine – I’m not crazy about them myself – but the economics are reasonably sound.

In any case, I am very willing to see my tax dollars being spent on art; the governments of every great society in history have supported, and funded, the arts. Our continued cultural and artistic legacies depend on it.
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I would rather my tax dollars weren't spent on curmudgeons, naysayers, and trolls. They leave crap lying around that spoils the landscape and keep the farm animals up all night with their cacophonous, cynical braying.
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A couple comments:
1. Christo's projects (including "The Gates") are generally fully funded by the artist and own financing. I might not appreciate it as art, but at least he didn't do it on the public dole, picking the pockets of hardworking folks. On the other hand, I've no knowledge of anyone getting killed by the Panopticon sculptures, whilst Christo has a mounting death toll.
2. The Atom looks like it fell off the truck hauling leftover stuff from "The Prisoner" TV series to the dump. Frankly, a Lotus 7 up on a hill would be prettier.
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1. Yes, “The Gates” was privately funded, but it still generated over $250,000,000 in economic activity on a $10,000,000 investment. Even if the installation had been funded by the city (I’m sure the city incurred some costs in any case) I don’t see how that’s picking anyone’s pockets; it’s in the city’s, and the public’s, best interest to develop economic activity. And Christo does not have a “mounting death toll,” but nice spin.
2. Again, you can debate the value of the pieces as art, I don’t really care. To each his own.
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Maybe this is just because I'm an okie...but does the 'tree' one resemble a tornado to anyone else? It even kind of sounds like one.

two words
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2 people met their ends via Christo's "The Umbrellas". One woman got killed by one of the giant umbrellas that blew loose in the wind and whacked her and a worker was also electrocuted when the display was being dismantled and a giant umbrella he was handling touched a too-near power line.

I would say 2 disconnected deaths from a single artist justifies my use of "a mounting death toll" :-P.
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Yes, two people were killed: but that was at the site of one exhibition, and it was seventeen years ago. The word "mounting" denotes a current and ongoing increase, which is inaccurate here.
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Surely the plural is "Panoptica"?!

I love the singing-ringing tree, the whistling is haunting but gentle. I saw a guy flying his falcon up there once.

The halo is powered by a tiny wind turbine. I had to rely on the knowledge of a small boy I met for that fact because the information board is invisible in the dark!
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