Gunpowder Empires

Designed by U-P, Melbourne

Curator: Broached Commissions Location: Gunpowder Walk, near Two Melbourne Quarter. Viewable after sunset. Photographer: Peter Bennetts


About This Artwork 

Batman’s Hill is a founding site of modern, colonial Melbourne. Like in many colonial cities, important store houses were placed at the edge of Melbourne’s commercial business district. Buildings that were pivotal in the maintenance and expansion of the colony. In this location once stood a gunpowder magazine – a storage facility for gunpowder.

These five circular Gobo light projections trace the deadly history and evolution of gunpowder from China, into the Ottoman Empire and across Europe. Gunpowder based munitions transformed war and with that civilization as a whole. The first circle illustrates gunpowder use during the Song Dynasty, China (960-1279) and the last with patent drawings for pistols and rifles by American companies during the civil war period (1861 – 1865). Over this enormous span of time one sees a dedication to creating weaponry that convey the glory of a feudal Empire and the total inverse of this with the rise of the American empire, which coincides with industrial scale munition manufacture.

About the Studio

Founded by Uriah Gray and Paul Fuog in 2004, U-P is one of Australia’s leading creative direction and graphic design studios, working across digital design, art direction and photography, exhibition design and illustration. U-P is celebrated for work that is research-driven and technically refined, intelligently translating the essence of a brand or project into unique visual outcomes. U-P has exhibited internationally including at the Design Museum, London (2015), and various exhibitions and design festivals across New York, Tokyo and the Netherlands. Australian clients include Aesop, Molonglo, University of Melbourne, RMIT University, Melbourne, Broached Commissions and the Powerhouse Museum, Sydney.

Broached Commissions and U-P are long-time collaborators, having worked together to translate research into pattern languages which have been applied to Broached Commissions applied arts objects and international exhibitions. At Melbourne Quarter, Broached enlisted U-P’s incredible illustration skills to translate into a public artwork the history of guns and gunpowder since their emergence in Ancient China, through to the establishment of a bluestone gunpowder magazine at Batman’s Hill in the late 1800s.

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