The works in this exhibition celebrate the last half century of bridge projects and the engineering that has made them possible. They also show how the use of film and photography has changed since the first decades of Ove Arup and Partners – founded in 1946.
The show includes photography by John Donat (1933 – 2004) and Henk Snoek (1915 – 1980), both leading architectural photographers in Britain during the 1960s and 1970s.
While their photographs tell a story of modern Britain, Henry Jamison ‘Jam’ Handy’s 1957 film ‘The Cantilever Bridge: A Chapter in the American Bridge Story’ tells a story of modern America via the construction of Tappan Zee bridge across the Hudson Bay. Today, Arup uses composite images (digital photography and computer renderings) to carry out studies for a possible new Tappan Zee bridge.
The change from film to digital photography has led to the democratisation of the medium, immediacy of retrieval and an abundance of ‘point-and-shoot’ imagery for project documentation that contrasts with the carefully composed work of, for example, Donat and Snoek.
This vast pool of visual information from the Arup archives has been raided and used by digital arts group onedotzero to create an interactive smart table and a new taxonomy of bridge spans.
Also featured in the exhibition is a new commission by Tonkin Liu and Ed Clark of Arup for a possible future bridge design inspired by the terrain in Yunnan, China; a story not yet told.
N.B. : John Donat also interviewed Ove Arup in the BBC documentary ‘Builder Extraordinary: Ove Arup’ (1967) directed by John Read. For further information, go to: http://www.illuminationsmedia.co.uk/blog/index.cfm?start=1&news_id=149&#comment11228