OAK

Artwork

OAK is a digital, typographic and visual artwork, a response to Letter to an Unknown Soldier, which you can watch live via webcam at http://artdesign.bathspa.ac.uk/mediawall. Showing for a month on the 30 screen, 7 metre high MediaWall in Bath Spa University, OAK is a powerful representation of the total contribution from the thousands of people who have written letters for Letter to an Unknown Soldier. The artwork takes the form of a 200 year old wintering oak tree. Its bare branches emphasise the strength and endurance that oaks are a renowned symbol for. Every minute, a new letter, written by a member of the public is displayed below the roots of oak. It is at this point that the words from the letter are transformed onto the tree, into growing word-leaves. A minute later a new letter arrives, adding more word-leaves and growing leaves where words have been reused. The word-leaves become larger and older, until they reach a point where they have turned from a spring green to an autumnal brown and fall to the ground, forming abstract sentences before re-forming as new shoots, to grow again. As a digital artwork the project has been created through the computer coding of artist Anthony Head, taking letters directly from the Letter to an Unknown Soldier website and analysing them for word frequency. The coding then displays the words in a natural formation on the bows of the water-colour of a Bath Spa University Newton Park campus oak tree, painted by illustrator Tim Vyner. Neil Glen, design technologist, designed the text layout of the work making reference to memorial walls in which the names of those honoured are listed as a series of columns creating a visual mass which upon close inspection reveals the details of those being remembered. In OAK the text of each letter is laid out in a single column, with the letters moving to the right every minute to reveal a new letter. The text on the tree uses early 20th century fonts, News Gothic with the logotype and text for the letters set in Franklin Gothic. News Gothic is a classical sans-serif typeface designed by Morris Fuller Benton, released by the American Type Founders (ATF) in 1908. The term Gothic is predominantly used in the United States and Canada when referring a sans-serif font. It has been extensively used in newspaper and magazine publications. News Gothic is closely related to Franklin Gothic, also designed by Benton, and released between 1902 and 1912. Watch OAK live via webcam at http://artdesign.bathspa.ac.uk/mediawall