Glow in the Dark Skateparks with South Korean Artist Koo Jeong-A

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The glow in the dark park in Everton, Liverpool opens on 5 October. How did that project come about, and was it a spin-off from your work on Otro?

In 2013, Sally Tallant, the director of Liverpool Biennial and Francesco Manacorda, the Artistic Director of Tate Liverpool came to me to talk about doing another glow in the dark park. Later the project involved Liverpool Biennial, Liverpool City Council, Mouchel, Everton Friends and Land Trust etc. Sally Tallant saw my work in France and asked if I would do a second version of the glow in the dark park in Liverpool. It was a very exciting moment to imagine the park in the dark in Liverpool. Sally has been working hard to revitalise the city with long or short term projects with the Liverpool City Council including 5 wheel parks in which some of them are already under the construction, her idea was to make one of the 5 wheel parks as an art work made by artist that becomes a cultural destination. I had very exiting research moment to resource from the local people, Shewsy youth club, youth congress of Liverpool city and the skate association including the street skaters.

How has it been speaking to the locals, skaters, and architects in the design processes for the two parks?

For Otro I met many different people from different skating world. It was interesting process because we needed their experience and to hear their excitement additionally to my imagination, the size wise or the precise angle matters, even for the difficulty as a beginner to work up when you fail in the bowls. Most of the studies from a researching time have a mark in a design process. It was essential to speak to skaters and to the community who will be living with the park. We were able to talk freely, and the skaters/architects were very generous to offering us their personal experiences. We were only looking for the complete day to see the natural illumination in the dark.

The first night when the paint just dried, the skaters jumped in, straight away. Otro actually sparkled when they scratch the painted surface by sliding. We got the same sensation in Evertro during the testing time when they slide over the painted part. The skaters were able to skate at night in Otro as it is illuminated inside the bowl in the dark. We will paint inside bowl in Evertro in couple of months.

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Were there any differences between designing Otro and Evertro?

Since doing Otro, between the years 2008-2012, there has been a growth in a number of companies who offers the phosphorescent paint. That is one of the different aspect between OTRO and EVERTRO. Another differences I would take care in mind are the resource of local environment.

OTRO locates very remote area within the Art Centre for Contemporary Art and the Landscape in which the Ile de Vassiviere had created artificially by making a dam, though their former village surrounded the island are submerged under the lake. To design OTRO, I had been inspired from a bubble economy, dripping paint, positive negative circles that turns sometimes to an spiral open sphere, wilderness, the conversation between the different winds and different silences. I was very inspired by Kant’s text on perpetual peace in 1795 that explains the developed society gives the economic success that provokes the peaceful society.

And for EVERTRO that seats in the middle of the residency of the Everton Park, I had an idea from a diamond cutting, potato cutting that become the centre of the associated mind. I treated the street style skate surround the main design which is painted, as the skaters demand very much their wish to have a street style skating by current generation of skaters.

We avoided to include the tunnels and the big dig from the beginning as we understand the park must not have to offer the opportunity for the drug dealers or the crimes in which the Everton Park has been serving past decades. The bowl directs to the east to receive full of sun light in the morning and having a sunset by dusk when you are set to watch over the hill, the skaters came back from a school or from the daily work and slide in a quite EVERTRO, sounds the noisy concrete hit, I would like to see how would be evolved by validating the spatial temporal void in a social structure especially by creating a sort of team poetry.

For both OTRO and EVERTRO park, the principle of the illumination in the dark are still same concept as to dress the deceased of the brightness that duplicates cohabitation form of the contrast.

We switched off the stadium lights on EVERTRO for couple of minutes in an official opening night to see the dramatic effect.

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The glow in the dark concrete calls to mind numerous possibilities, is the phosphorescent concrete being used elsewhere?

I was in Oslo this week to participate in a lecture on an eco-friendly lighting topic that is also related to the UNESCO event on “the year of the light “. I saw the bioluminescent are being used/tested a lot in an urban space. The artists, designers, biologists, architects, and bio-engineers were given the different cases.

By the way, the case on the phosphorescent concrete execution were unique on OTRO and EVERTRO so far in an urban condition. There have been a research on a plant or a living animals.

Do any of your other artworks use phosphorescence?

I have a wall drawing titled “TODAY” in 2000 that has been created when I was invited in an exhibition of Rovaniemi in Paris and “arrogation ” in 2012, ” tempos de grossura ” 2013 are made with phosphorescence material in 3 dimension. “Tempos de grossura” was created while I was participating in a project of Casa de Vidro at Lina Bo Bardi Foundation in Sao Paolo, Brasil.

Photographs courtesy of Francois Lichtle of L’Escaut and Koo Jeong-A

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