Sol LeWitt Artwork Unveiled at UT’s New Computer Science Building

 

Creativity meets technology with a new installation at the Bill and Melinda Gates Computer Complex and Dell Computer Science Hall.

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Circle with Towers, the 14-foot high circular structure designed by conceptual and minimalist artist Sol LeWitt, was just unveiled this week, and it already has a nickname: “Gates-henge.” The structure was acquired by Landmarks, UT’s public art program, along with a colorful LeWitt wall drawing inside the building.

“The selection of Sol LeWitt for computer sciences is really a poetic match,” says Andrée Bober, the director of the Landmarks program. “[LeWitt] was the only artist we could imagine for this project.”

On March 21, Landmarks unveiled the sculpture with a public lecture by Veronica Roberts, a LeWitt expert and a curator at UT’s Blanton Museum of Art.

LeWitt—who died in 2007—became famous in the 1960s before “conceptualist” was a buzzword. He valued the idea of art more than its execution. For many of his pieces, he was the brain behind the creation, but never actually laid a hand on the piece himself—hence his deliberate choice to use the term “structure,” not “sculpture,” for his creations.  He once said that “the idea becomes a machine that makes the art.”

“His instructions are a code that’s interpreted and played out by other hands, it seems to parallel the work of the programmers who will toil in this building,” says Bober.

The detailed instructions to which Bober alludes were used to build the Circle with Towers that now guards the entrance to the building and to paint the three massive wall drawings, entitled Wall Drawing #520, that inhabit the main auditorium.

The wall drawings use only the colors available in standard printer ink: red, yellow, blue, and gray—yet another element of technological advancement in LeWitt’s work that aligns closely with the field of computer science.

“[The LeWitt works] are so integral to our building,” says Bruce Porter, professor and chairman of the department of Computer Sciences. “Circle with Towers is so well-integrated, it is like the staircases, or the bridges. You just can’t imagine the building without them.”

The Landmarks program seeks to fill the Forty Acres with pieces that are not only beautiful, but also integral to the University experience.

“The art is meant to be interacted with,” says Jennifer Modesett, external affairs coordinator for Landmarks. “It’s not like a painting that you can’t go out and touch. Circle with Towers is meant to be socialized in, and sat on, and enjoyed.”

While carefully curating the University’s public art experience, Landmarks aims to educate the student body about the work. Many of its past projects have been integrated into classroom curricula and used across disciplines. The Landmarks staff hope that people will learn to interact with the LeWitt structure.

“I’ve seen people eat lunch out there. I see them socialize in the middle of the structure. It’s just a matter of time before it’s used for a wedding for alums who meet and fall in love here,” Porter jokes.

Photo by Mark Menjivar.

 

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