Whether you’re making your way into the LSE library or fall just short of your destination to have a couple of pints at the George IV (local pub just opposite the library, for those who’ve never been), you are likely to notice a new embellishment to the otherwise pretty uninviting university campus: a several feet tall arrangement of flickering blue LED lights. No, it’s not to deter the pigeons. What? No, it’s also not the school’s latest attempt to raise money by selling advertising comparable to that at Piccadilly Circus.
It’s art. Art by the San Francisco based artist Michael Brown, paid for by a former LSE graduate from the class of 1965. His work is called “Blue Rain” – which makes sense because it does indeed look a bit like rain running down the side of the building, or a waterfall actually (especially if you belong to the “couple of pints at the George IV” audience).
I had a quick chat with the artist just after the work had been installed today. He explained what the cryptic flashing of the blue LED lights are meant to read (and eventually will read, after some adjustments to the ticker speeds and the brightness). In several overlapping layers, they present information retrieved directly from the inside of the library – “the research being carried out”.
First I thought this meant that everyone can read my essays as I sit inside, typing away. But “Blue Rain” will only retrieve the library catalog searches, books being checked out, and new additions to the collection. Still, if I type in some funny search term at the right time, will it make its way onto “Blue Rain”?!
I’ll leave all matters of aesthetics to the reader. Please leave your comments… One LSE student passing by already opened the debate. He critically asked about the cost of the thing. And what about any return on investment?
Please visit the artist’s website at http://onsights.com/, where the photoshoped picture above was taken from. The pictures taken today by a photographer will be available on the LSE website soon.