Sea smoke, the aurora borealis, and a desire to bring a touch of the North to Southern Ontario: These are the things that inspired Monument to Arctic Phenomena. How did that actually translate into the blue plexiglass structure you may have seen across our BRANTA campaign? Allow the artists who made it to explain.
“We started with the print,” says Nicholas Croft, one half of design duo Polymetis. He’s referring to the pattern on the FW19 collection’s jackets—which is itself an abstract take on the work of American artist Diane Burko. “It’s a tiny part of the print that’s been enlarged without becoming too obvious. It allows for interpretation, leaving it open for people to decide for themselves what it was speaking to.”
How that’s actually achieved, however, entails days and weeks of work: brainstorming, drawings, models, and finally, construction. The central challenge was taking something 2-D and creating a 3-D structure. That’s where the artists’ background as architects comes in. As Michaela Macleod, the other half of Polymetis explains: “The pieces we create are somewhere in between art and architecture, so all the things you learn about proportion, colour, scale, being sensitive to the site around you—that directly applies to the work we’re doing now.”
This installation was initially only intended to serve as a backdrop for the images in the BRANTA FW19 campaign, but it was given a second life as part of Toronto’s all night art festival, Nuit Blanche. It was not, however, as simple as simply reconstructing the piece in an urban setting instead of the gravel quarry where the initial shoot was held. There was an “otherworldly feeling” to the piece Polymetis wanted to maintain. Enter the fog machine and a soundscape by Joseph Murray.
“He’s got a background in doing scores for movies, so his work has that ambient feel to it,” explains Croft. “We liked that he could do something that was not loud or central, but something that supported it. He added things like ice cracking and wind-blowing to reinforce that Arctic feel.”
“The smoke and light gave it that silent, ephemeral environment we were looking for,” adds Macleod. “Many of the people who visited through the night mentioned it gave them this feeling of clarity and calm.”
Not unlike the Arctic landscape that inspired the piece in the first place.