After looking at the works of Gordon Matta-Clark and Rachel Whiteread who creatively convey the insularity of homes through their art, I decided to focus more on the residents of the house rather than the physical structure itself. I wanted to explore the social dynamics that surround walls, doors and windows and the difference in behaviour between one side and the other of the house.
Producing a safe interior, walls create a membrane or buffer zone separating an inside from an outside, while linking both in a particular way. The walls of a house are very particular boundaries. On one side, there’s a space overfilled by with personal possessions; the private, the domestic. On the other side, other people, the public, the rest of the world. Doors are moveable barriers that allow the passage between the inside and the outside. All these boundaries express a desire for protective distance from the outside world. In so doing, such borders select and prioritize social relations.
Venetian blinds were the ideal medium for this project since they convey the idea of a boundary, and the difference in discourse between the inside and the outside. A comic script of 7 phrases was written and printed on the blinds inspired by the data gathering exercise around 5 houses in Penryn and Falmouth.
“A border is not so much an object or a material artefact as a belief, an imagination that creates and shapes a world, a social reality. Much like a window offers a view onto the world, the material inscription of borders constitutes a strong act of the imagination on the world. Borders select and prioritize social relations.”
B/Ordering space, Van Houtum, Kramsch & Zierhofer (2005)Through this project entitled ‘Draw a Line’, I seek to investigate a plethora of demarcations and boundaries in a purely visual approach: their size, shape, colour, texture and form.Without passing any moral judgement, I want the audience to become aware of these lines’ artificiality and historical-determinism. A border is a socially-constructed normative idea, a belief in the existence and continuity of a binding power that only becomes concrete, objectified and real in our own everyday social practices. Borders are not relevant in themselves as objects but even more as a structure that informs people’s views and behaviour. Borders have not left the scene of human territoriality. On the contrary they have become more socially manifest and asserted not been replaced by globality.
The 24 images are compiled in a spineless book format and held together by a sleeve made of a random arrangement of lines. They range from images of tangible and conventional boundaries (line in sand, police line, fence), to slightly more metaphorical and intangible boundaries (linguistic, image/reality). The 22nd and 23rd images relate to the socially-constructed boundaries of gender and sexual orientation and challenge the audience to question their assumed naturalness.
Whilst reading Deleuze and Guattari’s ‘Kafka: Towards a Minor Literature’, I came across an interesting quote by Michel de Certeau (1975), about the ‘subject’: the autonomous being we call the ‘self’. It’s quite a dense piece of writing, but it’s worth a read!
Writing is born from and deals with the acknowledged doubt of an explicit division, in sum, the impossibility of one’s own place. It articulates an act that is constantly a beginning: the subject is never authorised by a place, it could never install itself in an alterable cogito, it remains a stranger to itself and forever deprived of an ontological ground, and therefore it always comes up short or is in excess, always the debtor of a death, indebted with respect to the disappearance of a genealogical and territorial ‘substance’ linked to a name that cannot be owned.
Benches in village squares and public spaces are a means of connecting people, or bridging local people together. Imagine sitting down on a bench here in Falmouth and sharing that same bench, with another person in France, Italy, Malta or wherever in the world.
Worldbench (2005) is an installation by a group or public artists called Greyworld that uses a park bench to link up places across the world. An ordinary wooden bench is placed against a screen. Reflected on the screen is the continuation of the image of the bench, disappearing into the distance; while one side of the bench is in London, the other is on the other side of the world. Four Worldbenches have been created, with many more to be installed around the globe.
The simplest of objects, a park bench becomes a medium of openness between cultures. Rather than sitting down in your own locality, and sitting next to other ‘locals’, this bench encourages people to transcend the border of distance, and share a bench with an ‘outsider’.
These are the works of art of British artist Rachel Whiteread. Many of Whiteread’s works are casts of ordinary domestic objects and in most cases, the space that is not inhabited by these objects: the negative space. She says the casts carry “the residue of years and years of use”. She is interested in giving form and solidity to the the space in which people live. Her famous casting technique was used in cardboard boxes, living rooms, bookshelves, staircases, and even a two-storey building.
The total inaccessibility of the works is an intriguing feature of her work. The ‘inside’ of these objects and buildings is hermetically sealed, and entrance into her works is completely annulled. The impermeability of concrete is symbolic of the insularity of private spaces.
No this is not a picture of a house that has been hit by an earthquake.
This is a work of art by the seventies American artist Gordon Matta-Clark. To create this work, Matta-Clark sawed two parallel slices through a nondescript wood-frame house in Englewood, New Jersey as part of his ‘anarchitecturist’ philosophy. He brought an acutely social dimension to his art making, played out through the terms of architectural space. His sole interest was to challenge the conventions of privacy and security attached to the domestic sphere, particularly the ‘home’.
‘By undoing a building,’ Matta-Clark wrote, ‘there are many aspects of the social conditions against which I am gesturing… first to open a state of enclosure which had been preconditioned not only by physical necessity but by the industry that profligates suburban and urban boxes as a context for ensuring a passive, isolated consumer – a virtually captive audience.’
Other works by Gordon Matta-Clark
A blank white page.
No lines, no margins, no marks… just virgin space. No beginning, no end. No left, no right. No top, no bottom.
To describe space, to name it, to frame it, to classify it as space, entails tainting it; breaking it into small pieces. Hold a pencil in your hand, press it hard against the surface and draw it across the page to create a border; a division, a separation. The vast, pure void becomes a grid of lines. Each little piece is broken down further into other fragments, and we’re left with concentric boundaries that stifle us, leaving no space for movement, no space for space. We draw lines to demarcate continents, countries, regions, villages, districts, streets, houses, rooms, and even the little, square tile we stand on. In this spatial splicing, even objects and people end up split into disparate elements. Fragmented space with fragmented objects owned by fragmented people. And everyone struggles to own one piece or another and mark it as his or her own.
Bits and pieces.
We live in space, in these spaces, these towns, this countryside, these corridors, these parks […] There isn’t one space, a beautiful space, a beautiful space round about, a beautiful space all around us, there’s a whole lot of small bits of space, and one of these bits is a Metro corridor, and another of them is a public park.
In short, spaces have multiplied, been broken up and have diversified. There are spaces today of every kind and every size, for every use and every function. To live is to pass from one space to another, while doing your very best not to bump yourself.
Georges Perec, Species of Spaces and Other Pieces
Imagine designing the perfect space. Kia Motors did.
By playing with the idea of ‘perfect space’ and the spacious interior of their new mini-car, the new ads for Kia Venga show their researchers and factory workers calculating, designing and polishing the negative space within their car. In fact, the output from the factory is not the brand new car, but ‘space’ that has been meticulously manufactured for the driver and passengers to enjoy.
see the full clip at http://www.kia.co.uk/microsites/venga/
Arrange, catalogue, categorise, classify, cut up, define, differentiate, discriminate, distinguish, divide, enumerate, gather, grade, group, label, list, name, number, order, organise, pigeon-hole, segment, sort, systematise.