Wednesday, 11 November 2009

2. Written extract - Species and spaces, by Georges Perec


‘Granted there is a wall, what’s going on behind it?’
Jean Tardieu

I put a picture up on a wall. Then I forget there is a wall. I no
longer know what there is behind this wall, I no longer know
there is a wall, I no longer know this wall is a wall, I no longer
know what a wall is. I no longer know that in my apartment there
are walls, and that if there weren’t any walls, there would be no
apartment. The wall is no longer what delimits and defines the
place where I live, that which seperates it from the other places
where other people live, it is nothing more than a support for the
picture. But i also forget the picture, I no longer look at it, I no
longer know how to look at it. I have put the picture on the wall
so as to forget there was a wall, but in forgetting the wall, I forget
the picture, too. There are pictures because there are walls. We
have to be able to forget there are walls, and have found no better
way to do that than pictures. Pictures efface walls. But walls kill
pictures. So we need continually to be changing, either the wall
or the picture, to be forever putting other pictures up on the walls,
or else constantly moving the picture from one wall to another.

We could write on walls (as we sometimes write on the fronts
of houses, on fences round building sites and on the walls of
prisons) but we do it only very rarely

(From the chapter my apartment, page 39)

I think what Perec is saying is that we take for granted most of the ordinary architecture around us. We almost stop realising it's there. We try and adorn walls with pictures to make our homes spaces more appealing but we can even take those for granted. Walls and buildings can obviously be places of expression too but I like the idea of these ignored spaces being explored. Finding out what is behind these ignored walls could lead on to further inspiration.

1. Film sequence - 2001: A space odyssey

Directed by Stanley Kubrick, 1968.
55 minutes into the film

I chose the scene showing one of the astronauts going about his daily routine, exercising and then eating. It is an extraordinary camera shot for its time showing the astronaut running around the cylindrical fuselage of his spaceship defying gravity on a mission to Jupiter, this seems to be man at his peak of evolution.

View the video from 8minutes 30 seconds until the end...

then watch the first couple of minutes of this...

I think what is actually being shown beneath the surface is a commentary that whatever the extraordinary or privileged circumstances we find our selves in, we as human beings have a natural inclination to take them for granted. This hyper-intelligent human flying across space in super-advanced technology is just reminiscent of a hamster running in his wheel in a cage. We have a natural tendency to be boring and mundane. At this point of the movie the ships computer, HAL, seems to be more human and have more character than the astronauts!

Initial ideas

I am interested in several areas to explore to inspire my work:

Identity - both of the individual, of groups of people and also the identity of architectural space (does this exist?).
The mundane and the normal - everyday spaces and built forms we take for granted, that can be explored and looked at in new ways.
Intimate and personal spaces - how do we behave in them? How does space effect the individual.
Obsession - obsessive process and restriction in making art.
Change and subversion - how do buildings change over time with their use? How can we manipulate and subvert existing architecture to experience it in new ways?

Hopefully I can find examples of sequences that relate to, or explore these themes.

First Project brief: Spaces, Narrations and Representations

This opening exercise is a means to help you evolve your research concerns through the making of a spatial proposal. The exercise will investigate the relationship between space and its representation, and is to be presented in a way that juxtaposes two and three-dimensional means of representation.

You will begin the exercise by making a relationship between your research concerns and a series of spatial sequences by other artists, architects, designers and filmmakers. You will need to articulate how the sequences have particular relevance to your research concerns; the sequences need to be carefully selected and argued for. The sequences should comprise of:

1. A short (4 minutes maximum) spatial sequence taken from a film of your choice, presented either in dvd format or as a series of film stills.

2. An extract describing a spatial sequence from a novel or other book of your choice, 500 words maximum.

3. An architectural sequence from a building you have visited, presented in image and/or drawn form.

4. A painting, abstract or figurative, that you feel establishes a relationship between the spectator and the virtual space of the painting.

5. A spatial sequence from a piece of sculpture or installation art.