Urban Sculpture > Growth Installation

“Growth Installation”

Artist: Kambiz Sharif

Burnaby Public Art


It is more than 20 years since I started working professionally in the areas of sculpture, public art and installation. I remain interested in the experience of creating art and its potential to communicate with people. I usually use simplification and symbolization as strategies for expressing personal feelings, questioning the frameworks of life that try to form us through pre-determined moulds. I have always been interested in challenging projects, where creativity can transform visual and social communication, specifically public art which has the potential to reflect part of our evolving culture and shape our collective memory. My objective is to create sets of relations which establish a unique sense of place and time. This proposal has been informed based on my research on the place of sculpture in the multi-cultural environment of Metro Vancouver. I will attempt to tease out between nature and urban space, as well as people and sculpture through the lens of a collaborative discourse. “Growth Installation” consists of one large central sculpture and three smaller forms, and considers the demographic development, cultural condition, as well as architectural and urban context of the Burnaby region.

About the Project

The primary idea for this project goes back to a sculpture with the same title but a different appearance which won the first award in the 3rd   Tehran Sculpture Biennial, now installed at the Iranian embassy in Paris. This concept also showed itself in another sculpture titled Need, a small version of which was purchased by the permanent collection of Davis Museum in Boston. A larger one will be installed in Vancouver in spring 2019 by the Vancouver Biennial. Research about growth continued until I became familiar with common methods of caring for newly planted saplings which can use stakes to keep the plant straight asit grows, while preventing uprooting during wind storms. In this process two or more posts are used to keep the seedling erect and strengthen its roots in the soil. This way of protecting plant growth has become the base of the idea of “Growth Installation”.

“Growth Installation” consists of sculptural-saplings which are growing in a multicultural ground, living next to nature, urban transit and architecture. The sculptures in this installation have a mirror finish, creating unstable images which change in relation to the outside landscape. They are in active relation with the surrounding environment, so that slight shifts in the environment create a tangible connection between time and place. This installation consists of one 13.5-meter-tall statue and three smaller ones with the height of 9, 8 and 7 meters. They will be made from shiny steel and would associate the moment of planting and growing seedlings. These four sculptures would be installed in different distances to each other in response to the area of the site, and to motivate a sense of curiosity in the viewer, inviting him/her to think about the larger concept of the installation. The bigger sapling, with the help of two posts to keep it erect, is the anchor between the various spaces created through this installation and gives an opportunity to the viewers to move it like the pendulum of a clock in order to have a quantitative sense of time passing. The spherical base of the sculpture is a motif from my previous works which refers to the universe and the passing of life. At night time, lights will become visible throughout the installation, positioned on the bodies of the smaller sculpture, associates a specific connection between people and environment, allowing us to encounter with the very moment of   plant germination from of soil. It is as if the passage of time has stopped suddenly and we witness a moment of planting and growth;  however, we can integrate and engage the roots of the plant, sit on the small saplings and participate in the changing, dynamic image. This means that “Growth Installation” involves the viewer with the concept of time and requires him/her to play a role in its passage. The root of the bigger statue will describe the form of a blossom and emit a dim light. This blossom emphasizes the concept of growth. A little higher up the stem, there are some branches which emit a dim strip of light at night. The colour of these lights would change depending on the season: pink in spring, green in summer, yellow and orange in fall and white in winter. The changing of colours is also a reminder of the passage of time. Additionally, a motion sensor would be set inside the body of the bigger statue which would repeatedly change the colour of the branches’ lights, day and night, at 10 second intervals, in response to the movement of the city and gives the sense that the statue is reacting to the surrounding human activities.

Concept of the Project

The main concept of this project roots itself in time and the reaction of different cultures to a common place. These concepts became crucial when we experience psychological time, that is what is going on in my mind, and physical time, which is defined by the clock.

In order to achieve a deeper cognition, I attempted to metaphorize these two abstract concepts: something concrete, objective and perceptible which increases my free will towards the concept of time. My sculptures will not obey the counting of seconds by clock and gives the people an opportunity to move time forward or stop it. In this case, they would consider their psychological and physical time as “time as object” and would be able to control it. In this situation, the way of communicating with the sculpture would become significant so that two classifications of “moving time and fixed observer” and “fixed time and moving observer” would form the visual structures of this relationship.

Additional elements in this interaction is time and place. Place causes the observers to face the concept and passage of time, creating a specific sense of belonging. These two assist each other and continuously expose various cultural identities to permanent change and make them closer to each other.

One of the most important specifications of place in Metro Vancouver is the juxtaposition of nature and culture. “Growth Installation” is a reminder of the presence of nature and its effects on our knowledge of ourselves and the time that passes. Its sculptures try to create a different perception of time and place through mirroring effects and their reaction to any type of motion in their surrounding environment. We are put into an unstable situation between what is accumulated in our minds from the past and what we experience in the present, bring us closer to each other. This installation is therefore representing a symbolic form of suspended time and creates desire in viewers to engage the root of the big sapling, intended to establish a new motivation for sense of friendship and sympathy in a shared, common place. In a symbolic moment – when the sculpture is being moved – the psychologic and physical time coincides and transforms an idealistic experience into reality.

The Location of “Growth Installation”

“Growth Installation” is to be installed in Burnaby, at the southwest side of Springer Avenue and Lougheed Highway. The study of location is very crucial in the design and installation of this project. First, we can look to an approach toward this installation from the city of Burnaby itself. “Growth Installation”, because of its popular context and diverse audience, has the potential to become a social symbol. This installation is dependent on two components: the viewers present at the location, as they become “objects” inextricably linked within the installation and “common space”, the context for forming social interactions and perceptions not merely for passive viewing. For this installation, the city of Burnaby is not a series of scattered parts in isolation, but it is a whole system in which there are meaningful relations and an objective unity between its parts.

Secondly, this district in Burnaby is like a dynamic phenomenon which is changing with the passage of time. A complex of natural and artificial elements have been effective in the creation of this dynamicity and development. Such elements are used in “Growth Installation” and its relationship with place. The location where “Growth Installation” is supposed to be installed has previously been an industrial area and now it is being transformed to an urban space with the aim of establishing a connection between history, culture, architecture and nature. The industrial history of this area will be considered in the design of this installation: the bases which suspend the bigger sapling are made from rusty iron and in this way, emphasize the history of the area.

A third and important factor in this installation is formal and aesthetic relation of it and the building it will stand beside. This huge, beautiful building – inspired by the forms of cliffs – has an appropriate relationship with the surrounding environment, overlooking “Growth Installation” and thus shares certain meanings. In designing the branches which are located on the upper parts of the bigger sapling, the nature of that building’s design is preserved. The branches that emit light during the night mirrors the form of the floors in the building. The size of the building has also contributed to the size of the sculptures of this installation and is an important part of its design.

Finally, as with other important urban structures in Burnaby, nature – and particularly tress – will have a very decisive role in the design of this installation and because of its reflective mirror-like properties, on nature, human beings and the surrounding environment, will be seen on the face of “Growth Installation”.

“Growth Installation” and People

“Growth Installation”, more than being merely a space occupied with some symbolic objects, is a space for individual and collective experience and the result of people’s interactions. Here, there is a new generation of collective identity, promotion of collective skills and social collaboration. The remarkable point in “Growth Installation” is its interaction with three types of audiences: passers by (in cars and trains), those who live in that area or pass through the area on foot. Growth is a phenomenon that occurs in the city and is being reproduced by each individual based on their experience to a particular place, generating notions of urban identities. In fact, it could be considered a dynamic phenomenon, formed by the cognition of people’s experiences within urban space.

The sculptures of “Growth Installation” would bring about a kind of heuristic and intuitive experience for the viewer. From a far distance, it makes the viewer familiar with a symbolic form and specific image of the region, and from a closer distance, puts the viewer in confrontation with a clearer image of their surrounding environment. Distance plays a crucial role in the formation of the concept of this installation. Different positions of the viewer would create different experiences. Another factor which is essential in this experience is the time viewers spend participating with the installation. The train passengers who pass the area rapidly, may see the larger, symbolic image and in the lights emitted from the branches of the big saplings, twinkling at night. But the people who reside in the tower overlooking the installation or those who pass by on foot, would be more in control of time and the way they relate to it.

The interplay of lights and the creation of images on the body of the sculptures, creates a situation where viewers, looking from any point, actively collaborate in the formation of the work. “Growth Installation” comes to life through the presence of the observer. The observers may have both a personal experience and a collective one, which leads them to ideas of unified identities. Due to their presence in the area of the installation, they themselves and others may be absorbed into the work, as a reflected or real image. The body would play a dual function, both as a viewer and as the object being viewed by others. Through looking at the images reflected on the sculptures and seeing others in the surrounding environment I am participating while at the same time, I am the object of the installation. I am not the only observer, and at the same time I am being observed by the others.

Material and Size of “Growth Installation”

In making “Growth Installation”, shiny steel would be used for the body of the sculptures, iron for the base of bigger sculptures, with LED lights installed throughout. Lights would work with a low voltage (V24) and would be guaranteed for 10 years. All the material would be procured from Vancouver and the installation would be made in my company, Sharif Sculpture Ltd. The size of the installation is precisely specified in figure 3.

Method of Transportation, Security and Maintenance

Transportation, installation, security and maintenance would be guaranteed by Sharif Sculpture Ltd and the installation would be cleaned by this company once every six months.

The Objective of “Growth Installation”

In “Growth Installation”, compelling ideas of pluralism, multiculturalism, social diversity and presentation in a public place for greater interaction are highlighted. The objective of this installation is to create a situation for encouraging interactions as well as larger communication between the residents of Burnaby and the individuals who pass through the city everyday. Creating a symbolic artwork for moving time forward and thinking about it through a collaboration of people from diverse cultures can motivate viewers to have more active communication. “Growth Installation”, presenting a specific image of the city, can have a crucial impact on the relationship amongst people and it can bestow a unique character to the area and play an important role in the vitality of the area.           



please rotate your device