Tuesday, 3 May 2011

The Monument of Ruin

Alar - Maya Render

My ideas are taking on momentum, albeit in my head, and I'm now in a place of conflict with my studio based work and written work. If I had finished my written work two weeks ago, I perhaps wouldn't have gotten to a point (two weeks before hand-in) where I want to vastly adjust the structure of the paper to include this new thought.

It is perhaps not as bad as I suggest, as the thoughts have really been triggered by the reading I've been doing on the Modern Movement as heritage, and how we deal with the paradox of a built environment which conflicts with present day mindsets. Since the early 2oth Century (arguably earlier in some respects) we have transferred from a very utilitarian manner of thinking to the individualism that has come to represent post-modernism. I feel a confidence in my own resolve to confront these notions head on in my own work, and really open up a dialogue with a present day audiences as to the history and current state of Modern Movement heritage.

By chance, in a lecture by Dr. Peter Hill on the topic of SuperFiction in art practice, highlighted new works by Nathan Coley opening at ACCA at the end of the month. The exhibition contains (amongst other things) "a civic plaza, defined by a series of cast concrete platforms in situ, inspired by designs of Oscar Niemeyer for Brazil's iconic capital city, Brasilia." and a performance piece by Cate Blanchett where the actress takes on the role of an architect discussing works created by her fictitious practice. This set off the notion in my head of the fictions often perpetuated by architects that places their buildings/ masterplans centre space in a utopian vision of reality. As is well documented, and what I belief Nathan is playing on in this work, is the stark contrast that often exists between "The Vision" and the reality. Indeed, I have been writing around the temporality of Modern Movement architecture, and the loss of Vision as time passes, function becomes obsolete, and only Monument is left (one could argue a contradiction in itself).

I am already in advanced talks with my sketchbook and head about a sculptural centrepiece which draws out the notions of identification of place through form (for example, in the case of a church, a crucifix can denote you're in the place of worship). The ecclesiastical work of Gillespie, Kidd & Coia still employed some of the more traditional typologies of church design, but instead of ornate marble columns they used concrete, or facing bring. The honesty of materials still denotes you are in a place of worship, due to the sculptural manner in which the materials are employed and the clever use of light. Take, for example, St. Bride's, there's a wonderful sombreness to the interior that contrasts with the bombast of the exterior. I want to capture this, and use it to begin a conversation about the Movement.

My work also seems to be gravitating away from St. Bride's as a focus. It's become more generally about ecclesiastical architecture of the Modern Movement. Taking these forms out of their context and in to a gallery space translates beautifully, as the gallery space can be as sombre as a church, and is almost devoid of function until an artist installs. From this, I want to bring in the idea of my centrepiece, being like a alter come pavilion (a nod of the head to GK&C as they designed the Roman Catholic Pavilion for the 1938 Empire Exhibition), where the viewer congregates around the structure, as if at mass.

The structure would take its form from an altar like base, simply three or so steps leading up to a pool of water. This pool denotes the decay and fragility of the Movement in the present day, and juxtaposes itself against the rigid forms of the structure (water features also played a role in some of GK&C work - notably St. Peter's Seminary). Suspended freely above the stepped based is the overhang of the altar from St. Bride's. I've chosen this form, as the repeating arches are a theme which can be seen across GK&C's work, and imply the form of an altar and pavilion. In terms of lighting, I intend to projection map the 3D aspects of St. Bride's employed in the structure to create the "quality of light" indicative of their work. This aspect of the idea is not fully resolved, as I want to perhaps involve some level of decay in the lighting, which again, gives subtle reminder to the notion that this object, in the context of the gallery, has no function, and is Monument and Ruin.

Again, in the very early stages of thinking, I would like to bring in some speakers during my Master's show to present from the altar. This references the dialogue I want to create with my work, but at this point in time, rather than create a fiction, as Nathan Coley intends to do with Cate Blanchett, the speakers would be openly discussing the concepts of the Modern Movement as Monument and Ruin, heritage, etc.

I'm bombarding Blogger with these ideas, as I need to put them down, so it may come across as an incoherent mess. Hopefully I will begin to post more frequently, avoiding these mega-posts.

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