Sunday, February 14, 2010

Campus "Art"

One of the indicators that the KAUST campus is coming closer and closer to completion (insha'allah) was the sudden appearance of strange pieces of sculpture at random across the community. These inspired pieces range from interesting to just plain strange... some of these I really have to wonder "why did they put that there?" But then according to the architects who designed KAUST, that was partly the intent. The metaphor goes something like this: along the path to discovery, you often come across things you don't recognize. For better or for worse - it worked. KAUST campus definitely has its own unique style.

Is it a snake? Is it a human head? Whatever it is, somebody probably paid too much for it... Many of these funny shaped stones sprouted up in gardens and grassy areas while we were away during winter break.

Though most students immediately think "football," (translated "soccer ball" in the United States dialect) this shape is actually most closely related to the Western wiffle ball, which is like a baseball except it won't break any windows. Maybe is is meant to be an atom or something? I don't think atoms look like that, so I'll argue that the artist was trying to promote wiffle ball - I don't think the sport has caught on in KSA yet.

Is it a telescope or a giant robotic ant? I change my mind every time I walk by. Maybe we can just split the difference, launch it into space, and call it the first KAUST satellite.

Again, I am not really sure what the message is here. If you look closely, you will see that the metal has little hands and is wearing high heels on its little feet. I guess it is a female metal ring-thing welcoming us to... eat at the restaurants? Interesting, but a little creepy at night.

These don't make sense at all. The loopy metal mesh on the ground is in the middle of the sidewalk and cannot be seen until the pedestrian stumbles onto it. The pointy metal mesh on the left is poorly placed because it is sticking into the sky interferes with the sunset view from inside the main diner.

This is an eight foot tall picture of the king himself made out of old computer parts with paint splattered over them. His beard is actually a collection of motherboards. I like the reuse theme and the creativity, but I am not really sure what inspired it.

I think these shapes are inspired by diatoms - microscopic, calcium carbonate shell-forming plankton which naturally exist everywhere at the ocean surface. I like these, but their placement is again, kind of random.

What do you think? As for myself, I would rather have the art than not. The sculptures create a very unique character at KAUST. I do hope that they didn't pay too much for some of this weird stuff though...


  1. i guess, kaust is trying inspire visualizations.
    Doesn't it have one of the best visualization labs.

  2. Hehehe...some of those are funny. Thanks for sharing some of the interesting sights from your school.