Monday, May 5, 2008

Elsewhere: Everything and Nothing You've Seen Before

The class was sitting in the studio when we first were told of Elsewhere. A collection of anything and everything, Elsewhere was a difficult concept to understand. “It’s a Museum!” Suzanne exclaimed, but none of us could grasp what we were heading into.

Placed in an average looking building, from the street, the museum gives the allusion of an old, antique or vintage store. The structure does not give away the astonishment and curiosity that lives within. Even though Suzanne told us what we could find in Elsewhere, nothing could prepare me as I walked through the front door. A pat-racker’s paradise, Elsewhere is the product of Sylvia Gray and years of collecting anything she could get a hold of. Recently organized (to an extent), the contents of the buildings are out for people to interact with, and artists to come in a manipulate for featured exhibits.
On the first day at Elsewhere we were to place sticky notes on items we wished to draw. Overwhelmed with options, each of us were allowed to draw anything on the first floor level. As I placed my sticky notes around the museum, it became clear that all of my selected objects were ones I, either had when younger, or once came in contact with. It is funny how, even in the mist of chaos and unfamiliarity, one will immediately find order and familiar aspects.
I had a blender like this when I was younger. It's funny how something so simple and small can spark so many memories.
The quotes on the Blackboard make no sense whatsoever, but I think it adds to the quirky appeal.
Would anyone care for some groud Mustard?

The next day we arrived at Elsewhere, we were actually told why we were there to begin with. We were to Map out the first floor, using our drawings as the blueprints. Any successful method to capture the essence of Elsewhere was accepted and appriciated. I knew that, as a place to draw, I needed variety and complexity. I chose the fridge and kitchen area, because of it’s common presence in every single household. This space is far more interesting than an average kitchen, however. Not only is the space layered with spices and cooking utensils, but also with various sized refrigerators. The main fridge is a white backdrop for cut out articles, alphabet magnets, fliers, and other items deemed “pinned on the fridge,” material.
I drew the overview of my space first, with the general idea of the layers. Then I started to draw the details. In doing this, I think that it is easier to understand how much stuff is in anygiven spot, in Elsewhere.

This view is actually that of where I am sitting, at the kitchen table. Not only did I want to view my chosen space from head on, but I also wanted to experience it from the space itself.

In the weeks our drawing class spent in Elsewhere, I believe we all have aqquired far more appreciative concepts of space and analyzing it to create maximum impact in our work. It was a pleasure to be apart of Elsewhere, and I can only hope that others will benefit from the experience, as much as we did.

Habitable Wall

For the Habitable Wall project, my client was Mark Rothko.In researching Rothko, I found myself drawing inspiration from, both his artwork and his personal life. The two traits I found most inspirational about his paintings were his uses of light and size. Rothko’s paintings illuminate from within, allowing each layer to show through, revealing the depth within the painting. Rothko’s style altered throughout his life, but the importance of light remained a constant. The other characteristic I admired was the size of his work. Rothko noted that, “large pictures are like dramas in which one participates in a direct way.” He wanted people to experience a painting as if they were actually within the picture. While in the presence of a Rothko painting, and I can tell you with experience, one looks only at the painting. It is so big that peripheral is no longer relevant, and everything else simply fades away. So, I knew light and size had to be incorporated into my design.

On a personal level, I wanted the design to appeal to Rothko and his needs. He would need a separation from his social, work, and private life. By creating a clear separation, he would be able to control his space on his terms. In a habitable wall, he’d need: a place to entertain guests and prepare meals, work and display space, and an area to rest.

From the beginning, I was keen on reestablishing the idea of a wall. In my opinion, a wall is a device that separates one space from another; it did not have to literally be a vertical plane to qualify as a wall. So, I situated the wall horizontally instead. My idea was for Rothko to live around and within his habitable wall. Most of his living space would be within the wall, and therefore, underground. As the spaces recessed underground, the distinction and transition from public to private space would be established.

As I further developed this idea, I found myself steering away from, not only my initial concept of unity amongst light and size, but the essence of Rothko as well. The size and experience of Rothko’s work are what is so captivating and symbolic. Rothko never hid his paintings, so I believed his living space deserved the same respect.

At this time in the project, we were also given the parameters of having the wall be on the third floor of the Gate wood Studio Arts Building. Groups were formed from every designated client, and we were to have our designs built in a living community. At this point, I new I needed to move away from underground living, so I did the exact opposite: the whole form was now lifted and mounted into the south-west, glass corner of the second year studio.

To replace the idea of ground as the starting point, I added a large platform. The only part of the wall that would be at actual ground level would be the lowest level. Now, with the whole form on display, the wall became a statement.

Approaching it, the form looked as if it were floating, suspended in air. The rectilinear design became more dynamic and interesting. One could interact with the forms, whether it be walking under them, around them, or actually venturing inside them. This new design was more Rothko friendly than the previous could ever be.

Situating the design high up, in the corner of two glass walls allowed me to fully address the uses of light and size. As the spaces moved under the platform, light would increasingly decrease, until, in the resting space, there was no light, safe for a small window. Similar to the light, size would proportionally decrease as the spaces recessed under the platform.

By doing this, the distinction between public and private became more prevalent than ever. Rothko’s most public space was large and open and his most private space was dark and secluded. The use of color added a sense of transition as well. The lightest color fits the public space, while the darkest color resides in the private area.

When it came to materials, I knew the more support, the better. The mounted platform would be metal framed, as well as the forms protruding from it. Covering it would be plaster and wood would act as trim. In this case, simplicity in material is the best bet, as I did not want to take away from the form of the habitable wall.