Susan Collins | University of Oxford
Brighter Later
Susan Collins, Brighter Later (2013)
credit: Modus Operandi

Susan Collins

Brighter Later — light installation at the Radcliffe Observatory, November–December 2013

A light installation by Susan Collins entitled Brighter Later – which was inspired by the Radcliffe Observatory’s prominent role in the history of astronomy and meteorological recording – transformed the observing tower of the Grade II-listed building into a lantern visible across Oxford, as part of the celebrations for the Oxford Christmas Light Festival in November 2013.

Susan took her cue from the origins of the Observatory and its architecture, which is based on the Tower of the Winds in Athens. For two weeks the interior of the tower was lit up from dusk until midnight each night, responding in real time to nature, the wind and the elements. Driven by data from a bespoke weather-measuring system located in the gardens of Green Templeton College, each light responded dynamically to meteorological variables. Changes in temperature, pressure, rainfall and wind drove the colour and brightness fluctuations of the lights, linking it very specifically with the north Oxford location.

The title of the light installation was taken from the Nick Drake track and album 'Bryter Layter' which is an oblique reference to weather forecasting, as well as the Light Festival.

Susan Collins is one of the UK’s leading artists in digital media. She is Professor of Fine Art and Director of the Slade School of Fine Art, UCL, where she established the Slade Centre for Electronic Media in Fine Art (SCEMFA) in 1995.

Susan works across public, gallery and online spaces employing transmission, networking and time as primary materials. Key works include the BAFTA-nominated Tate in Space for Tate Online (2002); live pixel-by-pixel transmissions from remote landscapes including Fenlandia and Glenlandia (2004 and 2005); and Seascape (2009), a solo show at the De La Warr Pavilion. Public commissions include Underglow (2005-6) – a network of illuminated drains for the City of London. Collins exhibits extensively both nationally and internationally.

A time-lapse film by Oxford-based photographer David Fisher shows the changing colours of the light show during the course of one evening