Wednesday, 10 July 2013

The Art of Engineering - Introducing the Faculty's new Artist in Residence.

Bob Levene has recently taken up post as the Artist in Residence in the Faculty of Engineering. She is excited to talk to the Woman in Engineering Blog about her plans, (Bob is actually a girl with a boy’s name... and yes it came from Blackadder!) Below she talks about why she is doing this and what it is exactly. 
"The way we live has changed in unimaginable ways over the last few hundred years and engineering has enabled that"

What made you want to be an artist in residence at the Faculty of Engineering?
For sometime I've been drawn to the (admittedly broad) area of engineering. For me it brings together diverse subjects such as natural resources, environment, technology, geopolitics, materials and economics, but remaining routed in the practical and problem solving of the everyday. More often than not it’s hidden, buried, small and ignored until it goes wrong.

Engineering sits firmly behind our everyday lives in the systems, tools, and networks that feed and heat us, allow us to communicate and transport us. The way we live has changed in unimaginable ways over the last few hundred years and engineering has enabled that; it is 'The Modern Convenience' but this way of living has inadvertently created new problems. So what does it mean to be an engineer in these changing times? What are the questions we should be asking? What are the changes we need to make? Can we solve problems without creating new ones?

What kind of art do you usually make? 

Over the years my work has manifested as video works, live performances, events, sound pieces, drawings, films and even walks, so you can see I'm not particular loyal to one medium. I tend to make a whole series of works concerned with a particular topic or theme. The last completed body of work explored our perceptions of distance, speed & time. I was particularly drawn to the oddities and contradictions that arise when we try to mediate, order and measure the world using tools, instruments & guides. You can see examples of previous works at

What exactly will you be doing in the Faculty? 
Over the next few months it’s my hope to visit many researchers across the faculty to find out about the kinds of projects that are happening. I will write a blog which will report on what I find, what inspires me and the ideas that come from it. The second part of the project will start to focus on the development and making of a series of artworks based on the initial research. It is hoped that they will be exhibited at the Festival of the Mind 2014 in addition to other events and venues. 

How did you get to be artist in residence here? 
Earlier in the year I met researchers Dr Alison Beck (Materials Science & Engineering), Dr Caroline Evans (Chemical & Biological Engineering) and Dr Jonathan Paragreen (Mechanical Engineering) whilst working on a Sandpit creative correspondence project called Furnace Park. A Sheffield Crucible funded and developed project, it aimed to develop innovative and experimental collaborations between eight University of Sheffield researchers and three established artists to engage with cities and urbanism. “The Art of Engineering” was developed from a need to continue and expand the conversation. 

How can people become involved? 
I'm really keen to meet Engineers from across the Faculty during July, August and September. It could be a 10 minute chat over a cup of tea, a guided tour around your department or you could show me your research in more detail. Don't be shy, there is nothing to big, small, mundane, beautiful, ugly, simple, I'm interested in the lot!

You can email Bob directly at:

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