Dan Tobin Smith
In September 2019, Dan Tobin Smith created VOID: an immersive installation in partnership with The Experience Machine for the London Design Festival 2019 Commissions. Visitors walked through a series of large-scale projections showing magnified photos of the inside structure of semi-precious gemstones.
Smith originally developed the concept for VOID in 2014, and Art Partner have been working with him since to turn his idea into a reality. Smith, TEM Studio and Art Partner formed a partnership with renowned gemstone supplier Gemfields for the 10 day exhibition at Collins Music Hall.
Smith and his show received substantial critical acclaim from leading publications including British Vogue, Vogue India, The Financial Times, Forbes, Wallpaper Magazine, and The Evening Standard.
London Design Festival
Every year the London Design Festival showcases the very best in British design and innovation through exhibitions, installations and events. Only a handful of unique creative projects are selected to be a part of the prestigious festival.
VOID is the second installation of Smith’s that has been chosen for one of the commissions; his hugely successful ‘Kipple’ installation was a one of the highlights of the 2014 festival.
More than 4,000 people visited Collins Music Hall to see VOID during the ten days it was open. In addition to the installation, on offer to the public were masterclasses with gemologist Joanna Hardy and two live performances from female electronic drone choir NYX, who were responsible for the scoring of VOID.
A 360° Kaleidoscopic Gemological Experience
The gems shown in the exhibition were magnified up to 60 times their size using a Leica Gemological microscope and slowly turned using a custom motion-control rig. The result when projected on a 360-degree screen was kaleidoscopic, galaxy-like structures that blur the boundary between nature and design. Smith said, “Unearthing these inclusions is like opening up a massive catalogue of textures, patterns, colours and forms, things you haven’t seen before and you couldn’t design…Nature has created these things through insane timescales and crazy randomness.”
Prior to VOID, Smith had shot two campaigns for Gemfields in 2014 and 2016, sparking his initial interest in the project. In an interview with Dezeen, Smith said “I discovered that filming [the stones] made them really come alive…And in the end I thought it would be a shame to just leave them as films, so the idea of an installation started taking shape.”
In the making of VOID, Smith filmed over 100 gemstones over the course of three years, including Mozambican rubies and Zambian emeralds, many of which were sourced by Gemfields.