The Bartlett School of Architecture


Surface Tension - A Kinetic Installation

10 October 2011

Smout Allen Press

Smout Allen (Mark Smout and Laura Allen) architectural designers, researchers and university lecturers have been commissioned by the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno, USA, to produce the centrepiece installation for their current exhibition "Landscape Futures: Instruments, Devices, and Architectural Inventions".

SURFACE TENSION is a vertically organised network of more than 2,000 individual parts suspended from the ceiling. Cranked mechanisms, computational devices, gold space blankets and counterbalanced kinetic switches pulse through undulations and waves that mimic the droughts, rains, surges, and floods of the planet‘s hydrological cycle. Subject to its own internal tides, Surface Tension might best be understood as a technological landscape: both animated and annotated with complex recording devices.

In their related proposals for 'neonatures' in Lanzarote, the River Severn, and an unnamed fictional metropolis of the future, Mark Smout and Laura Allen have produced mechanical prototypes that make visible the processes through which water is managed and distributed worldwide. Smout Allen's work makes a coherent if  magical machine out of the everyday technologies of water.