Below is the process for my planning and quick images of how it is going so far. I have to admit I am not particularly skilled at this but I am giving it a good go. At the moment I’m using a Stanley Knife but I belief a scalpel would be more useful. In the future I am going to experiment with cuts and what gets the cleanest line.
Apparently my room is haunted by the ghost of an A1 Foam Board sheet
Using the stickers to label connections of the walls to make install easier in the future
experimenting with double sided sticky tape pins, and glue gun
I have talked a little about Lawrence Weiner in last years studio work but I feel that he is still pertinent to my own studio practice especially through the use of words and what he uses to place these phrases upon.
Here is the previous post so you can browse if you so wish.
My prime interest this term has been his use of the public space as an arena to view his art. All the public canvasses for his “sculptures” have been placed on non-distinct, banal, ordinary surfaces yet they are made interesting by his phrases. Whilst drawing attention to the ordinariness of these settings, Weiner at once subscribes an importance to them. Just like the objects I have reclaimed from the charity shops, the settings for this art are now celebrated yet commonplace. I believe there is a suggestion that even the most ordinary things, a wall, a place, a manhole, objects or even random words holds some importance. These are the things which are tidied away, “crushed between cobblestones”, and “tucked in at the corners”. Although they are easy to neglect, there could be something significant people are missing if they choose to abandon these things.
Following from Anthony Vidler’s analysis on the Uncanny within architecture, Woodchester Mansion was a good topic to follow after reading his analysis. Woodchester Mansion is an interesting building to me because of the nature of its existence.
This mansion is an unfinished, Gothic revival mansion and was abandoned building in the middle of construction. It appears completed on the outside but from the inside there is plaster, floors and even whole rooms missing which has been like this from the mid 1870’s. The intention of this house was for it to be built as a country house and deer park. There was a clear fault with the building of this house and why a deer park would be chosen as the house was built half way down a valley which reduced visibility of the view, and the site is difficult to get to. It was not the original owners – the Ducie’s – prime residence so perhaps they were looking for a more isolated retreat. Nevertheless, the house was an architectural disaster from planning to building and remains as a odd reminder of what could have been; forever remaining in a constant uncanny stasis.
I like the concept that something that appears completed could have a hidden, unstable interior and Woodchester Mansion is the physical representation of this. This is an avenue I would like to pursue further in either studio or my own time by I feel like it fits in well with the unheimlich where something appears safe yet in the same regard is distinctly unsettling.
After considering for a while how I was to recreate the department, I decided that Foam Board would be the most malleable, cheap and easy material to manipulate. I had a quick search after making this choice and I had discovered that architects use this material to build scale model reconstructions. This was perfect for me as I wanted to include aspects of architectural artist influences and research such as Anthony Vidler, Bodys isek Kingelez, and Mike Kelley within my practice. Kelley and Vidler work directly with architectural reconstructions and Vidler explores the Uncanny with buildings.
Below is the material I chose on Amazon:
The foam provides enough strength to remain upright and the paper its coated with allows for ease of cutting
I asked Mark if he has any plans for the department that I could use and he got me in touch with Angus. I chose the latter plan as it seems easier to annotate which is essential to make the plans.
The next step is to work out how I was to commence building the construction. I quickly decided on labeling all the lengths of the walls and then matching what walls would slot together with stickers to make it easier to assemble in the future.
This video was really helpful in signposting what to look out for and how to go about constructing the recreation of the department.
I looked into Anthony Vidler’s The Architectural Uncanny: Essays in the Modern Unhomely partially because I believe research into buildings is essential to my practice and I also have a wider interest in to the uncanny. A except in the preface intrigued me and was relevant to my own exploration of place:
“the uncanny erupt[s] in empty parking lots around abandoned or run-down shopping malls, in the screened trompe l’oeil of simulated space, in, that is, the wasted margins and surface appearances … its apparently benign and utterly ordinary loci”
Part of what makes a space unheimlich is the fact that common places such as parking lots, airports etc are easily reproducible. They all maintain similar features that makes them indistinct from one another. They are all relegated to having “surface appearances” and “wasted margins” so they remain utterly banal. This is similar to my intention to recreate the art department, the walls which are meant to be stark due to their purpose as serving as canvasses, of sorts, means that they are ordinary in appearance. Through my recreation they are doubly banal as a miniature version of it now exists from its recreation.
The nature of “house and home” is a particular interest of mine and the uncanny features largely in this concept. In the words of Vidler “the house provided an especially favored site for uncanny disturbances: its apparent domesticity, its residue family history and nostalgia, its role as the last and most intimate shelter of private comfort…”. What makes the uncanny so potent and inherently Unheimlich is when somewhere you believe is safe and familiar is exploited. This is why the familar trope in horror films of an unknown caller coming from within the house is so effective. It deconstructs the feeling of safety into something odd and fearful. This feeds into Vidler’s exploration of “individual estrangement, alienation, exile and homelessness”.
One of the aims for my final piece is to include a blankness within my installation so that the objects remain the focus to the piece. Like Vidler’s analysis ‘the site [should be] desolate; the walls blank and almost literally “faceless”, its windows “eye-like” but without life – “vacant”‘. This blankness I intend not to be off-putting, but should contrast with the eclectic nature of my chosen objects.
Kingelez, before his death, made sculptures of envisioned cities that reflected his hopes for his country Zaire – now the Democratic Republic of Congo – alongside the continent and the world. Through Kingelez’s “Extreme Maquettes” offer a dream for a Utopian future. These maquettes are Kingelez’s way of exploring the questions surrounding urban growth and how communities function. This feeds into the ultimate question of how the power of architecture can rehabilitate society in conjunction to these prior themes.
Kingelez’s maquettes are made with found objects such as paper, packaging, bottle caps etc… which are all re-purposed and manipulated to form his structures. Alot of his city scenes are in response to wider issues within the world such as in Kimbembele Ihunga (1994), the artist reimagines his home village with a football stadium, banks, restaurants, and skyscrapers. In Ville Fantôme (1996) Kingelez has imagined a city where doctors and police are unneeded. In this maquettes a perfect harmony is achieved while it may not have been possible in a real life setting, within these cityscapes it is entirely possible.
In response to Kingelez’s “Extreme Maquettes” David Eggers in Frieze asked his architectural friends why “buildings are almost invariably black and grey, but their explanations, concerning custom and cost, were unconvincing. In all other areas of design, reflecting even the most minimal aesthetic, we look for and accept colour, even the most controlled bursts of colour. But in city architecture we retreat”. In Kingelez’s vision, these colours perhaps represent the promise of a future harmony, or reflect that only in his Maquettes can this harmony can be achieved.
From this Eggers thinks “we could ease our sometime-sense of dissonance and disconnection by camouflaging our buildings in the colours of the world”. This is the response I also personally had to his work, a little bit of colour and optimism for a better worlds certainly couldn’t hurt the current climate the world is in today.
For myself, Kingelez’s work has been influencer due to the fact that it has made me consider the implication of colour and the meaning behind it. Kingelez’s Maquette’s visually represent his hopes for Utopia and through colour invoke this. Similarly to my own practice, by including a white cube or a space that is devoid of colour, this allows for the objects within the space to be given attention: a hope that they will be recognised.
Isa Gensken works in a variety of medium that ranges from oil, collages, film, photography and most notably, sculpture. Gensken’s practice features Constructivism and Minimalism and often engages with Visual culture and Modernist Architecture. Because of this consistent reference to architecture within her practice, Genzken’s structures have been likened to “Contemporary ruins”. I have been influenced by her architectural models. I have responded to her white buidings that are although true to scale are unobtrusive and seem to blend with the setting. What is especially pertinent to my practice, and for this term, my work is the inclusion of other objects in her installation. Whilst the buildings seem central to the work, the inclusion of these objects draws the eye to attention. This is the ultimate aim of my assessed installation piece. I hope that whilst the scene is set by the building, these seemingly insignificant objects are the main focus for consideration and analysis. This is why the concept of the white cube is important to my practice: it enables a setting where the objects become heightened in importance.