NEGATIVE SPACE

Art Installation to raise awareness of the impact of noise, light and small spaces on mental health.

Project Date: 2020

project Length: 2 Months - Ongoing

‘Some buildings are opaque. Caring little for context, they stand, abstract, aloof from their environments. They were created to support the city and its inhabitants but are inaccessible to the public. Their functions are finite, but they are retained as senseless, beacons, nodes.’

I have been asked to propose a new programme for this typology, my site will
act as a host for that set of circumstances. Integrating the thought and design process into this elective will enable a clearer and more defined literal translation and presentation of my work. Ensuring that I had a full and concise understanding of the brief was, for me, the first stage in my process. When undertaking a written brief, I first need to examine key words and phrases to ensure that I am interpreting the theoretical requirements which will drive my thought process from investigation and observation through to a visual and written recording of ideas, development and reflective analysis.

A motorway gantry is a signage structure generally mounted over roads
to inform drivers of lane closures, driving speeds, accidents, hazards or to give directions. The structure also contains the electrical apparatus and cameras required to monitor traffic and relay information. Its design and purpose is therefore functional and unconnected to the environment out with the motorway and inaccessible to the public. I have been asked to explore another viewpoint for this structure and original purpose. My initial reaction to this brief was one of confusion as previous briefs have related to actual buildings and usually confined within the parameters of space and location. However creating a new typology for this structure will enable me to break free from the initial purpose and allow me to explore opportunities for deconstructing the obvious and examine elements which can be developed for a new purpose.

 
 

MOTORWAY GANTRY DETAILS

Researching motorway gantry’s, I began to look into the construction and dimensions of the structure. I copied these structures onto CAD files which made me aware that there are many more elements and details to a gantry than a normal building.

RESEARCH

Sketchbook

I have given consideration to deconstructing the gantry and exploring the external boundaries of the structure. To put these thoughts into context I read ‘Radical Reconstruction’ by Lebbeus Woods:

‘To inhabit the spaces of walls, edges, peripheries, boarders and the ‘in-between’ – the spaces of the extreme conditions brought into being by radical transformations – is not a matter of creating entirely new knowledge, even less discarding existing ideas or systems of knowing, but rather a matter of expanding them, precisely at their former, or present limits.’

My current idea is to take this idea further and develop an intervention, creating an art installation or a passageway inspired by the movement of the cars and the light created from a long exposure.

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SITE VISIT

I visited three different sites (Paisley Road, Arleston Road and B768) where gantries are exposed from an overhead footpath. I played with long exposure shots on my camera using a tripod, at these sites to capture the movement of the cars and the stillness of the
gantry. Trying out different exposure times I have noted that short bursts of 2 seconds works best for the atmosphere that I have envisioned. This method has created long tube-like shapes appearing from the back of the car, showing time and light contrast.

Photographs

 
 

EXPERIMENTATION WITH CONCRETE

Concrete brick to set dry with wire protruding through it to convey the passing car.
Deciding to experiment with concrete and wire to explore visuals of movement. Choosing these materials convey the existing materials used in the creation of the gantry and its surroundings: Hard, industrial. I have decided to do this to develop on the photographs that I took the previous week. Choosing to experiment with different wires has allowed me to play with the form.

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Design mainly focuses on the good – how can we design a space in which the user will be comfortable? Creating ‘good’ ‘liveable’ spaces. These spaces go unnoticed and often underappreciated by non- professionals in our field. So what if I make a ‘bad designed’ space? The purpose of this will be to highlight and prove that good design in interior design is essential for mental health.

 
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RESEARCH FOR CONCEPT

Rosalind Krauss

Rosalind Krauss – sculpture in the expanded field creating a framework for the future.
In her publication “Sculpture in the Expanded Field”, Rosalind Krauss examines how the term ‘sculpture’ should be redefined and looks back on previous century definitions of art and sculpture and the difficulty in historically categorising modern sculpture.
She describes the environmental sculpture/earthwork Perzmeters, Pavilions, Decoys, 1978, by Mary Miss. She uses this piece of work as an example to illustrate her observation on the surprising objects now regarded as “sculpture”.
As long as this claim could be legitimised through critical analysis, everyday objects can be manipulated into the category of sculpture. “categories like sculpture and painting have been kneaded and stretched and twisted in an extraordinary demonstration of elasticity, a display of the way a cultural term can be extended to include just about anything.” However, Krauss notes that as concepts evolved in the 1950s and 60s; “At this point modernist sculpture appeared as a kind of black hole in the space of consciousness, something whose positive content was increasingly difficult to define, something that was possible to locate only in terms of what it was not.”
Krauss provides commentary on examples by Robert Morris which represent the absence of architecture or landscape in which the artwork is suspended in the negative opposite and different. She explains the complexities of criticism within the evolving expansion of the term “sculpture” into “construction” and the use of various mediums and cultural situations.
In conclusion, Klaus claims that sculpture has many different forms and can no longer be defined in one category. She states that “the new is made comfortable by being made familiar”.
This tells us that modern sculpture is successful through the use of historical precedents. This statement confirms the juxtaposition of my idea that my considered space will be unsuccessful in terms of good design. Klaus describes how modern sculpture has lost the meaning behind the representation, difficult to define described “in terms of what it was not”. Not architectural nor part of the landscape. I will be exploring more on this concept and developing my art installation to represent what good design is not. Putting emphasis on the meaning behind comfortable space.

 
 

COUNTER EXPERIMENT

To start designing my ‘uncomfortable space’ I have decided to explore how to first make the gantry a comfortable space yet claustrophobic. I will experiment with light airy materials creating a space soothing to be in. Undertaking this task will help me to understand what is required to design a space that is the opposite. How different materials and colours can change the environment and atmosphere.
Using white card, ripped at the edges, conveys a light feeling. Layering the paper adds a light textile approach and makes the space appear bigger whilst it is actually tapering in.

 
 

INVERT

Inverting the above photographs has created a sense of discomfort and the shadows emphasise the small space, making it uncomfortable to look at and probably be in. This simple adjustment depicts how light and shadow can alter a space creating an ‘uncertain’ atmosphere. I am heading in the right direction with regard to light, I now have to create a more uncomfortable shape as this current concept is unfit for purpose and still has a ‘soft’ effect. I will have to create a sharp look, taking inspiration from my initial site photos using lines to create a 3D atmosphere.

 
 
 

Taking inspiration of my initial movement of the cars and sketches I have simplified the drawings into black linear, trying to make sense of the movement. Developing the concrete models, I made I have started to make sense of how a person can move around this space in a chaotic manner while still trying to taper the space at some point in the middle. Studying the white and dark space from the initial photographs has helped me figure out the layout and how to suspend the net.

 

EXPERIMENT WITH PAPER

Models

Experimenting with paper to find a shape to develop into my installation. This experiment failed as I did not like any of the negative space these shapes have formed. I do not see myself taking this forward. I am aiming for a netted structure so it can be layered and find more organic shapes that will represent the movement of cars.

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EXPERIMENT WITH NET

Models

Experimenting with net and thread has allowed me to create an organic shape capturing movement inspired by the car lights – photos that I have taken in week 2. These organic shapes have allowed me to visualise what the installation will look like in 3D.

With the use of layering nets to create a sense of chaos. The pulled fabric in the centre shows how the gantry can taper
in. Using nets inspired by my graphics developed on pin hole photography and editing on photoshop. This makes the space more chaotic as it is not a simple smooth finish.

 

TOUCH DESIGNER

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