Courtesy of Brian Lawler

Two large photo installations will be hung in Warren J. Baker Science and Mathematics (building 180) this quarter, both from graphic communication professor Brian Lawler. One of the new installations is of Crater Lake while the other is of Bishop Peak.

The photos are a part of Lawler’s collection of projects featured in science buildings and the Julian A. McPhee University Union (UU).

The Bishop Peak portrait project
Lawler’s robotic camera box stood before him, snapping a picture every five minutes, without any assistance from Lawler himself. From 5 a.m. to 9 p.m., the photographs document the iconic picturesque view of Bishop Peak from the camera’s perch on the roof of Robert E. Kennedy Library.

Courtesy of Brian Lawler

This is the Bishop Peak portrait project, an idea proposed to College of Science and Math Dean Phil Bailey by Lawler, a photographer and printer. Lawler wanted to take the best photograph of the hill every day for an entire calendar year. He built a water-resistant time-lapse camera box and chose the most pristine picture of the peak each day. He then stitched them together to create a photographic collage calendar.

From March 1, 2016 to Feb. 28, 2017, the camera took about 70,000 photos, which Lawler narrowed down to 40,000. He picked the best one from each day.

The photos will be displayed like a calendar on six large sheets of aluminum standing 5 feet tall and 16 feet wide on the third floor of Baker. Each photo was printed on 1/16th inch aluminum plates made precisely to fit the display panels. The montage is finished and waiting to be installed by facilities in the next month after almost a year-and-a-half in the making. The Crater Lake photo will be installed on the first floor.

Past installations by Lawler
The new installation is just one of the ways Lawler crafted his love of photography into projects on display for Cal Poly students and faculty.

Courtesy of Brian Lawler

Lawler’s first installation is a panoramic photo of San Luis Obispo hung in the UU. Lawler said that ever since the beginning, these projects hold a special place in his heart and aren’t the average shots taken with the latest iOS.

“It is just one image,” Lawler said. “I like the fact that the photo is so high in resolution that you can see incredible detail. For example, on the left side of the photograph you can see the Cal Poly soccer team practicing. These aren’t just ordinary pictures enlarged.”

Because the photographs are so high definition, it’s difficult to print them in their entirety. For example, Lawler’s Crater Lake photograph had to be printed in sections before it could be formatted together to form the final product. Lawler printed the sections of the photograph on aluminum sheets while College of Science and Math technicians Rob and Doug Brewster designed a framework system for the entire photo.

They took individual parts and seamlessly pieced them together to create one final photograph. Each section of the photo got an individual frame designed specially by the Brewsters to be fully adjustable, able to move left, right, up and down to fit each piece perfectly into place. This framing mechanism was used in Lawler’s Mars rover photograph that also resides in Baker.

“We are a university, looking towards the future for cutting edge stuff,” Rob said. “We are trying to inspire people, showing people what has been done, what has been created. It’s a ‘wow’ factor that inspires. It’s healthy for the students because they get to see what’s done, what could be done and how you could always take it one step further.”

Courtesy of Brian Lawler

Lawler’s artwork is included in Cal Poly’s permanent art collection that can be accessed for scholarly study in the campus art catalog. Cal Poly art curator Catherine Trujillo said installing work by faculty enriches the campus community and local community.

“Creating opportunities for students to access innovative photographic works by faculty helps inspire and educates at the same time,” Trujillo said in an email.

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