Mar 222013
 
'sky-wheel' by Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe (2007-2008)

‘sky-wheel’ by Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe (2007-2008)

Several years ago, I met Alec Finlay for a spot of lunch at The Cluny in the Ouseburn Valley.

By that stage, we had already worked on several projects together.  Through our collaborations, I was gaining insights into Alec’s mind, insights that were already enhancing my outlook on the world around me.

We sat outside on a lovely, relaxed sunny afternoon. Around us, the colours of Spring were springing and above us, the blue sky…

Ah yes, the blue sky.

That’s what Alec wanted to discuss — the colour of the blue sky.

What colour is it?  Could I use my understanding of digital colour and technical skills to somehow translate what’s up there into some glorious new colour wheel down here?

As it happened, yes I could and that idea manifested itself as sky-wheel.

Later, we would also make apple-wheel together, a piece that would form part of Alec’s shortlist exhibition for the Northern Art Prize:

'apple-wheel' by Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe (2010)

‘apple-wheel’ by Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe (2010)

On his skying blog, Alec describes the thinking behind sky-wheel in more detail:

This sky-wheel is a record of the colour of the sky, representative of a coastal location in North East England. It is…a work that appears to be scientific but is in fact entirely subjective.

While the sky-wheel does not meet any scientific criteria…his (Jack’s) role was as a mediator, between the technology of the digital camera, which produced the sky samples we used, and the technology of the digital ink-jet printer, which produced the final artwork.

The outer ring of the sky-wheel records a colour for every day, specified from a digital photograph of the sky. The camera is in a fixed position on the roof of NaREC (Blyth), pointing directly overhead and taking photographs at four hourly intervals during daylight hours. The calendar ran from midsummer day 2007 to midsummer eve 2008.

The outer ring shows the 365 days.

The second ring records a colour for every week; an amalgam of the seven colours for the individual days during this time period.

The third ring records a colour for every month; an amalgam of the four colours for the individual weeks during this time period.

The penultimate ring records a colour for each season; an amalgam of the three colours for the individual months during this time period.

The inner circle of the sky-wheel is a composite colour representing the entire year; this was created by amalgamating every other colour specification that appears in the colour wheel.

Below are photographs of the camera I rigged to capture the sky every four hours for a year from midsummer day 2007 to midsummer eve 2008.

The Canon SLR was controlled by an Intervalometer, all neatly encapsulated within a waterproof housing. I managed to feed a mains power lead from the camera, through the housing and attach it to an external power supply on the roof.

Every couple of weeks, I travelled to Blyth to swap the memory cards over and collect the images it had captured:

sky-wheel by Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe 2007-2008

Fixed to the wall on the roof of NaREC, the camera points skyward in its waterproof housing…

sky-wheel by Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe 2007-2008

The slice of Northumbrian sky captured every four hours…

sky-wheel by Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe 2007-2008

Corrosion to the mount fittings as the year-long capture process comes to a close…

sky-wheel by Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe 2007-2008

Corroded Bolt

sky-wheel by Alec Finlay and Jack Lowe 2007-2008

Over the course of the year, I made twenty pages denoting colour values, which were then transferred to spreadsheets to calculate the final entries for the artwork that became ‘sky-wheel’.

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