The Watchtower at FACT Liverpool

The New Observatory transforms FACT into an observatory for the 21st century, bringing together an international group of artists exploring new and alternative modes of measuring, predicting, and sensing the world. Words by FACT Liverpool. 
Humans have always used tools to observe, but now technology alters our perceptions more than ever. Today we are all connected to ever-growing systems of data. Corporations, governments, machines and individuals are constantly tracking and interpreting the smallest details of our lives.

Artists in The New Observatory create instruments, or use data, to measure the world differently. They conjure new and untold stories, from the personal to the political, micro to macro. They collectively challenge assumptions and standardisation, investigating the moments when logic fails and how that failure might create new possibilities.

Artworks reflect upon how powerful observational tools, once the preserve of scientists, are now part of everyday life. Liverpool has its own unique history of observation. The Liverpool and Bidston Observatories, active from 1845 and 1867, monitored natural phenomena from the stars to the tides, and created their own bespoke scientific instruments. The exhibition engages with this history and spirit, reimagining what an observatory, and observation, can be.

The 3D and 2D design for The New Observatory will be created by Ab Rogers Design. 

James Coupe’s work examines the power and meaning of surveillance in our everyday life. This four-storey wooden watchtower, A Machine for Living, offers a series of platforms for observation designed as ‘a complete living system’. Each area is optimised for documentation, labour, or surveillance using readily available technology and software. 

By bringing the watchtower into the FACT building, Coupe creates a strange kind of monument to observation, and presents us with a rare opportunity to watch the watcher. 

The cabin which sits atop the four-storey structure has been created using a mix of American cherry and American soft maple. 

Commissioned by: FACT Liverpool
3D sketches and renders by: Ab Rogers Design
Artist: James Coupe
Wood Species: American cherry and American soft maple
Wood Supplier: Morgan Timber
Photography: Stan Platford