Brunel 200 Legacy Luke Jerram – Tunnel Vision.
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Tunnel Vision

Luke Jerram is an internationally established artist, working at all scales from a vast hot air balloon performance artwork, ‘Sky Orchestra’ to a ‘Talking Engagement Ring’ he made for his girlfriend. Luke is currently the Arts and Science Research Fellow at University of Bristol and has recently been awarded the Clark Digital Bursary Award.

Tunnel Vision was a Brunel 200 commission and collaboration between Luke and the composer Dan Jones. Dan Jones has written scores for films such as the Oscar-nominated Shadow of the Vampire starring John Malkovich, and more recently Max starring John Cusack, (Best Film Score Ivor Novello Awards 2004). His television work includes music for David Attenborough's Life of Mammals and he is co-artistic director of sound-lead theatre company Sound and Fury.

Luke Jerram – Tunnel Vision.

In place for seven nights and at over ½ km long, Tunnel Vision was one of the largest installation artworks ever seen in the South West. Investigating Brunel’s failed project the Atmospheric Railway, the artwork sought to fuse architecture, candlelight (there were 2,550 candles lit!), surround sound and the viewer’s imagination.

The artwork used an array of speakers along the roof of the tunnel (the tunnel is 530 metres long and 8 metres high) the artwork attempted to recreate Brunel's Atmospheric Railway in surround sound. Trains appeared to move along the length of the space, passing through any visitors present. Through multi-layered use of abstract sound Tunnel Vision evoked the night time imagery that may have haunted Brunel through the worry and stress of failing projects.

Luke Jerram – Tunnel Vision.

The Atmospheric Railway was a new type of train developed by Brunel. Tested in the South West of England between 1847-8 the trains were powered by compressed air which literally blew the carriages along the track. The project failed for a number of different reasons including the fact that rats ate the leather seal on the air tight tube which ran along the length of the track. Horses often had to be brought in to tow the train and sometimes even the passengers had to get out and push!

Luke said: “Tunnel Vision has been inspired through studying Brunel’s archives and getting a sense of his personality as a stubbornly ambitious and determined man.”

“This ½ km long tunnel is an extraordinary acoustic space in which to create a moving sound piece”, said Dan Jones.

One of 4,400 recorded visitors, a local resident said: “When the train came through we couldn’t help but get out of the way. The atmosphere is absolutely magical.”

Carol, aged 70, said: “It gave me the collywobbles.”

For more information on Luke’s work and ongoing projects:

Luke Jerram – Tunnel Vision.


Photography: Mark Simmons.