DigiTech @ Adastral Park
JL Engineering Art won the commission (Dec 2020) to design and create a systematic network of sculptures that signify the arrival of DigiTech (the partnership of UoS and BT) on Adastral Park, BT’s research facility in Suffolk.
I was inspired by the park’s ‘creation story’, and how it incorporated the history of the site into what has become the new campus.
It seemed clear to me that in addition to marking DigiTech’s and EASTs new presence on the Adastral Park, there was a wish to provide some markers to assist students movement across a site which is absent of road names. There was a desire to install something that might provide wonder to all residents, and somehow recognise the technology and the related facilities both present and being brought to the site by DigiTech.
Intrigued by the names of the buildings, I understood their derivation but wanted to better understand how they related to R and D in the high-tech industry, on a campus working on: Artificial Intelligence, Quantum Networks, leading the way on 5G and broadband.
The park is sited on an old RAF base and the adoption of the Latin RAF motto – “Per Ardua Ad Astra” – “through adversity to the stars” into the name of the site explains the nomenclature. But to me this also refers to the challenge and failure that are part of the research process that enables you to reach your potential.
The brief suggested to me a set of sculptural works that marked the University’s new presence on the site, and a means to assist navigation around the campus. For both the new and current residence of Adastral Park there is a desire to install something that might bring contemplation and wonder.
Whilst the cosmic names and the mission in the motto remain very much present, in this new commission the park is acknowledging a need to capture and demonstrate the creativity they also possess as innovators. I feel that, like so many artists and authors, both past and contemporary, there are no better stories than those of ancient myth to evoke memories and feed the imagination. Myths are entwined with the constellations, ever since early humans looked to explain their wonder. In addition, the stars have aided our navigation of the world for centuries. However today, most of us use other heavenly bodies, to achieve the same with Satnav.