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By: Rosie Marchant
Critical Fine Art Practice BA (hons)
# 10 [23 February 2012]
This is the third and final of my proposals for the three wishes project. It is also closest to the work that I am planning at the moment. The first two paragraphs come from one of my previous blogs, so sorry to be repeating myself!
The New White Cube gallery in Bermondsey is a commercial space designed specifically to showcase the work that is exhibited there. The Sir John Soane Museum in Holburn began life as a private collection within the house of the architect Sir John Soane 1753- 1837. The house has now become a museum and is slowly being restored to how it would have been upon Soane’s death in 1837.
The space in the house is in complete contrast to the space of the White Cube Gallery. And so it would be, as they were conceived nearly 200 years apart. It would appear that the concentration within both spaces is on the collections they hold. This is very apparent within the White Cube as the space is obviously designed not to be considered within the viewing of the work. It is a boring bare space, the work displayed inside it is what brings the interest. This would appear to be so that the attention is on the work rather than the space holding the work.
The Sir John Soane Museum is in a maze of a house with the appearance of trying to fit as much into the space as possible – it is the antithesis of the White Cube Gallery. But the experience of going into such a space, where the space is as interesting as the work on show, changes the way you view the works you see.
I want to create an installation within a white cube style gallery space that emphasises the differences between these spaces. The installation would be of a different type of gallery space, but would be used to show the same types of work on display in the main gallery. Galleries today are designed with visitor movement very much in mind; it is easier to get lost in older galleries. I want to show this difference through the rooms and corridors that I create in my installation. Pictured to the right is a very basic plan that I could adapt for many different galleries. Below are floor plans of other designs.
All these designs aim to combine rooms and corridors in a similar way to the Sir John Soane Museum, keeping in mind other galleries and museums, such as the National Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum. The most important consideration is that the space is meant to show work. Therefore it would be suitable for different types of work.
# 9 [21 February 2012]
This is the second of my proposals for the three wishes project:
Newer galleries, such as the Tate Modern, were designed with visitor numbers in mind. The layout of the rooms at the Tate mean that visitors are more likely to move about them in a particular way, and are also less likely to miss a room than in other galleries. Those involved in the designing of the Sainsbury Wing said, “We want to avoid the danger of visitors by-passing rooms because they are out of the way or appear to be in a cul-de-sac”. The design of the gallery subtly directs visitors in a form of crowd control that creates similar experiences for each visitor.
I want to create a different type of gallery space, so that each time a visitor comes they have a new experience and sense of the space, and therefore the artwork within the space. I have sought to create a gallery space that does not allow the visitor to easily see from one room to the next, with differing interior and exterior spaces. I have not numbered the rooms so there can be no order perceived from there, and I probably would not offer a map. I want to ignite the feeling of exploration in the visitor that I would feel when I went to galleries and museums when I was a child – The sense of discovering something new every time a different room is stumbled upon.
I do not mean by this to draw attention away from the art that housed within the space. After all it is considered to be the museum or gallery’s purpose to display art. The pieces displayed in the different spaces in the gallery become a commodity that the visitor seeks to discover, and in the discovery can appreciate the piece as something exciting that they have found.
# 8 [21 February 2012]
In most galleries and museums that we go to there are maps and arrows to point our way. This makes it easy to predict a person’s path through a gallery space, and indeed when monitored (as seen in the image below of the Sainsbury wing of the National Gallery) the pathways are pretty much as expected, and on the most part are similar. What happens if such directional devices are removed? Rooms are no-longer numbered; there are no arrows and no maps. Would people’s pathways through the gallery change? And what effect would this have on the experience of the visitor to the gallery.
The space of the gallery itself would become more obviously directing. Newer galleries, such as the Tate Modern were designed with visitor numbers in mind. The layout of the rooms at the Tate mean that visitors are more likely to move about them in a particular way, and are also less likely to miss a room than in other galleries. Those involved in the designing of the Sainsbury Wing said, “We want to avoid the danger of visitors by-passing rooms because they are out of the way or appear to be in a cul-de-sac”. The removal of directional devices, therefore, may not initiate so much of a change in the movements of the visitor.
As you can probably tell, I am still thinking about different features that make galleries the way they are, and influence our movements within them. Though I am no longer concerned just with the differences in movements between galleries but also between experiences; if you’ve been to an interesting gallery, exhibition or museum space I’d love to know about it.
# 7 [16 February 2012]
I’ve done so much research recently; it’s been really interesting and quite fun. But it has meant that I have changed direction with my work. Although here is the problem, I haven’t made any work relating to my research or anything else for a while. I don’t even know what to make. It’s a little worrying considering I’m a matter of months away from my degree, which I’m sure you’ll agree is fairly important.
However, today there has been finally been light at the end of the long, cold, dark tunnel of not producing work. I still haven’t made anything, but I’ve had Ideas. It’s all very exciting, I hope, and this week I shall begin trying things out, hooray! Though the research into the gallery will still continue, now I can feel more like I’m being more productive towards my degree show!
# 6 [16 February 2012]
Last week I went to two very contrasting spaces both designed to show artistic works. The New White Cube gallery in Bermondsey is a commercial space designed specifically to showcase the work that is exhibited there. The Sir John Soane Museum in Holburn began life as a private collection within the house of the architect Sir John Soane 1753- 1837. The house has now become a museum and is slowly being restored to how it would have been upon Soane’s death in 1837. Sir Soane is interesting as he had a lot of involvement with what is considered the first free public art gallery in Britain, Dulwich Picture Gallery. I am thinking of visiting the Picture Gallery in the course of my research, but for now the house, now the museum is at the focus of my research.
The space in the house is in complete contrast to the space of the White Cube Gallery. And so it would be, they were conceived nearly 200 years apart. It would appear that the concentration within both spaces is on the collections they hold. This is very apparent within the White Cube as the space is obviously designed not to be considered within the viewing of the work. It is a boring bare space, the work displayed inside it is what brings the interest. This would appear to be so that the attention is on the work rather than the space holding the work (I know, I really need to read Inside the White Cube, Brian O’Doherty, and it’s on my shelf at home, honest!)
Sir John Soane Museum is different. Perhaps this is partly due to the fact that it is called a museum not a gallery (I’m sure I have more literature to read in this area too.) Originally the house was used by Soane to show off his collections of artistic objects from around the world. These include plaster copies of sculptures, many from the Vatican, an Egyptian sarcophagus and a room dedicated to paintings. The display of the works, and the nature of the house itself beg to be explored, every corner holds something new.
As much as I am interested and enjoy the works of Anslem Kiefer, whose work was on show at the white cube, I found I enjoyed visiting the Sir John Soane Museum far more. Perhaps that’s because I love old houses, especially unusual ones. Perhaps it’s also because I felt less like I was there because I ought to go and see some art (even though it was suggested to me in a tutorial). The differences between these spaces are something that I am going to consider further in my research, which will eventually lead me to making some work.
# 5 [15 February 2012]
This is something I wrote for a project we have been set at university in preparation for our degree show. The project was to create three proposals based on our current practice but without considering money, time or space constraints. This is the first of my proposals:
Maps show us the way. Maps in galleries show us the directions to a piece of work, a particular room in the gallery or in which order we are encouraged to view the work. The later is more common in exhibitions of specific artists, such as the map pictured to the right showing the recent exhibition of Pipilotti Rist’s work at the Hayward gallery.
The gallery, according to Pontus Hultèn, is a space to be traversed. There is a tradition of the gallery as a place to stroll and become immersed in the work that the gallery map contradicts. I would change this by placing my own altered versions of gallery maps within galleries, amongst their own, or even replacing them altogether. The altered map would differ from the original in a few ways, depending on the nature of the gallery and the map. A proposed route would be changed, or the numbers indicating the position of a piece of work would become letters or numbers that do not correspond with the numbers next to the text. Room numbers would be changed and the maps original purpose would not be fulfilled. Instead, there would be concentration on the work within the gallery and a stronger sense of exploration and discovery.
I'm not sure that this is something that I wish to pursue anymore, but it has got me started on thinking about work I can make from the research that I have been doing.
# 4 [8 February 2012]
Inside the gallery we are comfortable to put ourselves in situations that we might otherwise avoid. If we were approached in the street to go and see someone’s apartment or a space some had made would we do it? The minute the word ‘art’ is attached to something it feels safer, more legitimate, never more so than within the walls of a gallery.
Why is it that we feel safer within the environment of the gallery, why are we more likely to take part in something within such a space? There is an assumption that we will come to no harm inside an institution where there are health and safety rules to be met. But what if the situation is not as safe as first thought? Or what if something appears to go wrong?
I have begun considering the nature of the gallery space in my work since these ideas arose from my installation Blind Room. My next few blog entries shall look into various ideas relating to the gallery space and the spectator within these spaces.
# 3 [8 February 2012]
I keep another blog through tumblr which up until now has been about the issues I have faced with my practice and what I am doing leading up to our degree show. I find blog writing a really useful way to sort through ideas in my head and articulate what I am trying to do.
My next couple of entries on here, as well as the two previous entries are intended to get this blog up-to-date with my tumblr blog. I will then keep them fairly similar, though with more emphasis on issues relating to our degree show on here.
Talking of degree shows, we have yet to have a proper meeting about ours, hopefully they will start next week!
# 2 [7 February 2012]
That people are willing to become participants to installations such as Blind Room, that are disorientating and create feelings of panic or fear, shows the power of the gallery space on the actions of the spectator. Would you, for example, go in to a pitch black room if someone asked you to anywhere other than a gallery? If someone on the street said, hey come and have a look in this room where you can’t see anything, you probably wouldn’t go in. Maybe that’s a slightly unfair way to put it, but you would perhaps be less likely to do something like that in a public space than in a gallery space. Is this because you go to a gallery expecting to be asked to do things that evoke certain emotions, and it is after all in a gallery so it must be safe.
There is a type of social-cultural contract within a gallery, within most spaces, that tells us how we must act. Martin Creed’s piece at the Tate Britain with runners sprinting up and down the main hallway, showed something of how we expect people to act within a gallery.
I am still trying to decide where to go next with my art practice. I like the idea of challenging our notions of what could go on in a gallery space but I think that this moves away from what I want to concentrate on more; the spectator as a medium for making art.
After writing this I worked on some ideas for a maze installation within our studios. I never wrote an entry about it as ideas about gallery space took over and I never actually made the installation. What I did make were models of what I would've made. The maze would have had arrows on the walls, with the idea that those entering would follow the arrows without realising that they led them in a circle. I was also planning on using changing lighting to disorientate the visitor and make it harder to tell that they had been in the space already. Pictured is the model that I would've created in life-size had other things not taken over.
# 1 [7 February 2012]
Last term for our interim presentations I experimented with installation. Blind Room was the result. At the time I had been looking a lot at the control of the artist over the spectator with works that require a more active role from the spectator. This is what I wrote my dissertation about.
The interior of Blind Room was completely devoid of light rendering sight useless within the space. This means that the audience must rely upon their sense of touch to guide them as they grope around the space. The lack of any light means that the atmosphere of the space instantly becomes ominous and removes the audience from a comfortable situation. Structures built within the space cause it to be harder to navigate and find your way around. There is no way to regain your sense of sight within the space, you must leave the space to be able to see again. There is a growing desire to leave the space, the longer you are in it, and difficulty finding your way out increases this desire. When you have left the space it is a relief though the harshness of the light from the studio is dazzling.
Inside Blind Room on the second day. Bits of light began to appear as the cardboard came away from the windows. The brighter weather also meant the light that came through was stronger than the day before. It was still dark enough within the room that when facing away from the source of light you could not see anything.
I have since moved away from creating installations and as mentioned in my blog intro, have begun to look at the nature of the gallery space.
In this year, the final year of my degree, my practice has begun to focus on the role of the spectator. I have experimented with installation and ideas of controlling the spectator within artwork. I have been influenced by the ideas of Bruce Nauman who said he distrusted participation and sought to control the viewer.
I am now beginning to develop this to look at the gallery space and movements of the spectator within such spaces. It is these ideas that shall shape what I do in my degree show.