Site of Reversible Destiny, 1995,
Yoro, Gifu Prefecture, Japan
Arakawa and Gins
Armed with sneakers and a helmet provided free at the entrance, visitors are challenged “to rethink their physical and spiritual orientation to the world,” and while walking in the Elliptical Field, “instead of being fearful of losing your balance, look forward to it (as a desirable re-ordering of the landing sites, formerly known as the senses)”.
Pose piece for three plinths work
1971, Bruce Mclean
This is a series of 15 black and white photographs by Scottish artist Bruce McLean (b. 1944) showing the artist reclining in various poses on three different plinths. Embracing the plinth as defining characteristic of sculpture, McLean simultaneously devalues its authority and introduces ‘Pose’, the body as sculpture. The concept of ‘Pose’ describes the exploration of the possibilities of sculpture by means of performance. The body of the artist simultaneously becomes the primary material for sculpture and the sculpture itself, all the while criticising the contrived coolness of artistic self-presentations. If the position of a piece of wood or metal is considered sculpture, why not the position of a body? In works such as There’s a Sculpture on My Shoulder (1971), Stand About Piece (1969) or Pose Piece For Three Plinths Work (1971)7 , he doesn’t consider his body as just another art material in as much as he questions the conventions, which determine and constitute art and its display in general. The notion of using his whole body as a sculptural vehicle of expression led him to explore live actions: Pose was live sculpture: Not mime, not theatre, but live sculpture.
“Pose Piece for Three Plinths Work was part of this ongoing kind of ‘trying – things – out – situation’ at Situations. And then the photographs become the work. But I just found something else: I’m very interested in a singer called Johnnie Ray8. Looks a bit like Pose Work for Plinths; he used the piano as a plinth. I think it’s serious business making art like this. He is not coming from the same notion, he is not trying to make sculpture but it is a curious coincidence.”
This body movement methodology shows us how the body heals and learns in uncomfortable situations.
Paris Metro Station Entrances and Lamp posts,
1900, Hector Guimard
During the industrial age of Paris, the city wanted to bring back nature into the everyday lives of Parisians. Constructed from industrially manufactured cast iron pieces, these Métro entrances employ a new structural language, one that is comprised of elegant curves and sumptuous vegetal motifs—more rooted in fantasy than tradition or reality. The most elaborate feature glass canopies. Two original canopies still exist, at Porte Dauphine and Abbesses (originally located at Hôtel de Ville until moved in the 1970s). A replica of the canopy at Abbesses was installed at Châtelet station at the intersection of Rue des Halles and Rue Sainte-Opportune. A cast-iron balustrade decorated in plant-like motifs, accompanied by a “Métropolitain” sign supported by two orange globes atop ornate cast-iron supports in the form of plant stems.Later stations and redecorations have brought increasingly simple styles to entrances:
– Classical stone balustrades were chosen for some early stations in prestigious locations (Franklin D. Roosevelt, République).
– Simpler metal balustrades accompany a “Métro” sign crowned by a spherical lamp in other early stations (Saint-Placide).
– Minimalist stainless-steel balustrades appeared from the 1970s and signposts with just an “M” have been the norm since the war (Olympiades, opened 2007).
The Parisian architect and designer Hector Guimard was commissioned to make the Entrance Gate to Paris Subway (Métropolitain) Station not only to mark an entry to the new Paris Métro, but also to help make this new mode of transportation appealing to Parisians. Entrance Gate to Paris Subway is designed in the style of Art Nouveau, an international style of decoration and architecture in the 1880s and 1890s that drew inspiration from nature and natural forms. The gate’s curvilinear lines and patterns were inspired by vines and flowers. Symmetrical, floral lights frame the Metro sign, both lighting the entrance and advertising the Métro. This blend of design, architecture, and advertisement was important to modern ideas.
1976-1981, Bernard Tschumi
In the early days of developing and drawing The Manhattan Transcripts, Tschumi arrived at the tripartite notation of space, event, and movement and literally introduced the idea of movement as a separate term in the equation. Tschumi’s first assumption was that architecture begins with movement. For example, one enters a building, one passes through it, one climbs stairs, one goes from one space to another, and that network of routes being what really forms architecture. Even through architecture can be made of static spaces, the interaction between the static and the dynamic is what really constitutes it. This allowed Tschumi to take the argument to the next level and introduce and advance the notion of program, and then at a later stage to develop it more precisely. Traditional means of architectural representation (plans, sections, perspectives, axonometrics) have a number of limitations. Tschumi believed the idea of the event which evolved out of his theoretical work couldn’t be represented through these means. But it had been extensively documented in other disciplines such as dance, certain sports, and film theory, as well as in the work of a number of performance artists.
With Manhattan Transcripts, Tschumi is for the first time testing his philosophy of event and movement in architecture, a topic he will develop further throughout his writings and practice. Seeking to reveal an internal logic underlying buildings and cities, he conducts playful drawing exercises, while at the same time working on the logic of a structure to represent and interpret space.
His focus on activities that are unnecessary (luxury, wars, games, art, erotics) is part of the attempt to overcome the paradox of architecture (identified with the dualism of the pyramidand the labyrinth (Hollier, 1989)). The pyramid and the labyrinth represent the two aspects of space in Tschumi‘s dualist view of architecture: the conceived and the perceived space (Martin, 1990). The paradox is that architecture is at the same time both pyramid and labyrinth. Furthermore, it always misses something – either reality or concept, due to “the impossibility of both questioning the nature of space and experiencing a spatial praxis at the same time” (Tschumi, 1975). The only way to address this paradox is to reach the point where the subjective experience of space becomes its’ very concept. In his later writings he claimed that space is created by an event taking place within it (Tschumi, 1983).
How can movement ‘carve‘ space? How can space carve movement, in turn?
The work on Manhattan Transcripts was a notation experiment, with the intention to arrive at new tools and methods of representation. Needing to go beyond methods usually used by architects (plans, sections, elevations, etc) Tschumi complements his work with photographs, schemes and collages (combining axonometric projections, drawings, cut out photographs). He develops the formula object-movement-event.
The visual language Tschumi developed here is rich in linear drawings, showing plans and elevations of architectural spaces and schemes of movement. Drawings are for Tshumi both; a key means and a limitation of architectural inquiries. Eager to represent the dynamic component of architecture, he uses notations of movement with dashed lines and arrows indicating a direction; he also uses dotted line to represent the underlying structures.
Square is the ‘big brother‘ of the right angle, containing four of them at equal distances. Its‘ use in architecture is unsurprisingly essential. Square almost stands for an equal of normality. Tschumi decided to give it another role. He acknowledges the square as healthy, conformist and predictable, regular and comforting, correct. He then uses the square as a unit of event, a frame of experience, subverting this highly architectural symbol for the purpose of his theory.
Square is the building block of all MT phrases, whether coming in successive formations of three (MT1) or as part of a timeline (MT2 and MT4). Even in the fully deconstructed pages that end MT4, the underlying square matrix is indicated with little crosses. It is only the first part of MT3 that escapes this normalising tool.
In contrast to the healthy square are dark, black and white photographs used to describe the event in architecture. Consistently abstract details of ‘unnecessary‘ activities (as discussed above, Tschumi emphasises the subjectivity of experience through these fragments that are not necessarily experienced by everyone), they serve as a layer of reality, of lived space in this visual experiment. Their poor quality is partly a result of the source quality and the technique used for their manipulation (gelatin silver photographs). However it is also an agent of pluralism, opening the territory for multiple interpretations of the work.