In September 2020 the Interior Design department at the GSA requested that MDes student David Ross survey a small section of Bath Street and Bath Lane – so-called ‘Block 10’. Through the survey it quickly became apparent that there was more, much more, existing within the site than the worn and weathered materials might suggest.
It was the visually rich chaos of materials present in Bath Lane which were of immediate interest. Deep observation through photography, rubbings, material imprints and sound recordings formed a detailed report on the textural quality of these materials. Inspired by NASA and ESA composite images of other planets, stars and galaxies; composite images were created which contained the many layers of information collected from the Block 10 survey. Whilst NASA and ESA images to-date have been bereft of signs of alien life, incredibly, through close study of the Block 10 composites, a suggestion of a lifeform existing within the materials of Bath Lane was spotted.
Appearing within the layers of the Block 10 composites, uncanny forms were clearly seen. It was proposed that these ‘logos’ – which mirrored logos apparent on man-made objects within the lane, were attempts at communication by a conscious, alien being. The Bath Lane Alien-Alien.
With the publishing of the Block 10 composite images, a cult following developed. Groups gathered to graffiti the walls of Block 10 with interpretations of the logos observed in the composites. A response, assumed to be a new, bolder attempt at communication from the alien-alien followed. This took the form of large scale growths on the surfaces of the lane.
Interest in the site grew exponentially. Archaeologists, artists and politicians became involved. Based on the graffiti, an alphabet was developed; from which selected letters were cast as concrete sculptures and installed on site. As witnessed previously, the alien-alien responded through growing new physical forms. However, on this occasion in a more vigorous manner, growing into and from the sculptures. It seemed that communication through physical objects was preferred by the alien-alien.
With this experience, a new communication method was proposed. Scripts were written in Grasshopper, which could extract specific information from within the Block 10 composites, turning this information into richly textured, 3D wall tiles. Hidden within the forms of the tiles were letters from the previously developed alien-alien communication alphabet. Once installed at Block 10, the alien-alien responded in a miraculous way. Now growing only from the tiles; the form, scale and colour of the growths reflecting those of the tiles themselves. It was possible to harvest the growths and trial these as construction materials for a sculpture park on-site. From tiles installed at higher level, the alien-alien was allowed to grow in an uncultivated fashion, creating a chaotic, organic mass.
Debate now surrounds our future relationship with the Bath Lane Alien-Alien. Has a willing collaborative relationship been established, or as has often been the case, is a newly discovered non-human quickly being exploited for the value it holds for humans?
You can see more about the project here