Birmingham Prime Matter
Birmingham Prime Matter is a large kinetic sculpture located in the Joseph S. Bruno Science Plaza on the corner of 19th Street and 2nd Avenue North in front of the McWane Science Center. The sculpture, designed and constructed by California-based minimalist artist Eric Orr (1940 - 1998), is one of a series of similar sculptures which was initiated in 1981 as part of an exhibition at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Other works in the series are located in Colorado, Japan, Sweden and Tennessee. The largest example is a pair of 35-foot pylons in front of the Mitsui Fudosan Building in downtown Los Angeles, California.
The piece consists of a triangular copper pylon reaching to 30 feet above grade on top of an 8-foot-tall granite plinth. Water cascades down the textured surfaces of the copper and granite, reflecting light in an ever-changing dance. At intervals a natural gas flame climbs the pylon, emitting steam. The "four elements" known to classical natural science (air, water, fire and earth) are therefore each represented in the sculpture. The apparatus for circulating water and generating flames has needed periodic maintenance and is sometimes not in operation.
Birmingham Prime Matter was donated in honor of Joe Bruno by members of the Bruno family. Additional support came from the Alabama-Mississippi Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society as part of their "Legacy of Leadership" series.