The Constant Gardeners

In May 2021 I drove north to an assuming, yet large industrial estate in South Kirby, Yorkshire - equidistant between Wakefield and Doncaster. Nestled in that estate is Production Park, an enormous facility providing production infrastructure and services for the live events sector.

Assigned by Elephant Magazine, I was asked to photograph behind the scenes of a truly ambitious art project destined for the Tokyo Olympic’s Ueno Park this summer, with resulting pictures accompanying an article written by Ravi Ghosh.

Upon entering one of the site’s huge halls, I was greeted by four gleaming white ABB Robotics arms moving precisely, yet gracefully across an expanse of fine grey gravel.

Fitted with arrow tipped end effectors, the robots’ harmonised movements were unnerving, yet utterly beguiling, and they formed the foundation of Jason Bruges Studio’s latest technical and philosophical marvel called The Constant Gardeners.

Commissioned by the British Council for the Tokyo Olympics ‘Tokyo Tokyo FESTIVAL’, The Constant Gardeners / コンスタントガーデナー is a pioneering installation that utilises robots to reconstruct the art of a Japanese Zen Garden. Ingesting data collected from the Olympic athletes’ motions, The Constant Gardeners will reinterpret that data and draw a constantly flowing series of designs into the gravel of a Japanese garden.

Due to the complexity of the project, and nearly 4 years of development, Jason Bruges Studio wanted to conduct the final trials and stress tests at full scale prior to being shipped to Japan.

This multi week testing schedule required a larger space than their London Fields HQ and Production Park provided the perfect secluded location. Ravi and I joined the team during the last day of that testing timetable, with shipping containers already docked outside awaiting their sea bound cargo.

Internationally renowned for creating cutting edge hybrid interactive artwork, Jason Bruges Studio excel at producing large scale installations that sit on the boundary of what’s possible in a public space. It was exciting and a privilege to witness a little of The Constant Gardeners inner working.

I want to extend my warmest thank you to Jason, Adam, Martin, Richard and Beckie - you all made me so welcome on the day!

Thank you to Louise Benson at Elephant Magazine for the assignment, and to Sara & Sophie at Sutton communications agency for their assistance liaising with Jason Bruges Studio.

Read Ravi’s story https://elephant.art/ghost-in-the-machine-jason-bruge-gears-up-for-the-tokyo-olympics-10062021

Discover https://www.jasonbruges.com

Go Tokyo! https://ttf-koubo.jp/en/project/jason-bruges-studio

ABB Robotics https://new.abb.com/products/robotics

Sutton https://suttoncomms.com

Production Park https://www.productionpark.co.uk

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