Posts Tagged ‘Installation art’


Wonder Wednesday

December 13, 2017

Sunset art, art at sunset, art on an island at sunset, Naoshima wonder sunset art extravaganza!


Architecture Monday

November 27, 2017

In many ways, my trip to Japan could have been billed as the “Ando Connection.”  The whole planning process began when I plotted the locations of many of Tadao Ando’s buildings all throughout Japan, and the end route was chosen to hit as many of them as I could.  This included what I thought would be the pièce de résistance, the Church of the Light.  Which was entirely amazing, and I may blog about it further in an upcoming post.  But it was his works on Naoshima Island that struck me the most, including a few absolutely mind-blowing experiences that broadened my awareness of how space could feel and what space could be.

The first of these moments happened not more than a couple of hours after we arrived, touring the outdoor artworks of the Benesse House compound.  And it began with a simple wall that grew from the ground.

And that was exactly what it is.  A seemingly simple wall, bisecting a portion of lawn and extending into a cobbled patio on one side, while descending a staircase on the other to a lower platform.  But that simplicity belies some stunningly skilled mastery of proportion, volumes, and notions of enclosure and expansiveness.

While the aerial view gives an immediate way to grasp the layout, the visceral experience of being there was way more intense than the sum of its simple parts of wall, cobbles, and stairs.  The play of nature vs the pristine concrete smoothness of the walls, the narrowness of one stair exploding out towards the sea, the interplay of different planes and levels as they connect and divide among the varying wide stairs at the other end, and the proportions and relationships between each element, all contribute to an incredible feel to the space.

This is a piece that is meant to be experienced in motion.*  The shifting forms, planes, and lines as you move constantly reveal and hide something, and each new step brings a different framing of the forested hills, the beach, and the water beyond.  This is installation art and spatial art at its finest.

Under the broad upper plaza is a small room containing a work by artist Walter De Maria, primarily consisting of two, highly polished stone balls.  While hilariously calling to mind early 3D computer rendering** the reflective curves nicely played off the purely orthographic nature of Ando’s walls and by reflecting their room (the only actual enclosure in this piece) that you couldn’t enter gave a nice little extra spatial twist.

I think I walked around the entire thing for the first five minutes with my mouth agape.  It was that powerful.  And but a taste of what was to come over the next day and a bit on the island…


* To which none of my videos turned out very well, unfortunately!

* Highly reflective chrome spheres were supremely popular to show off rendering power and precision, they were almost an obligatory feature of early computer renderings and ray tracing.


Architecture Monday

February 20, 2017


Another project tonight based on the ubiquitous shipping container, but one that is very, very different from the little prefab modules proposed by CubeDepot.  This is also a project that hews more closely to installation art or sculpture, than architecture, though still vital to the built environment, being situated in the very heart of the city of Calgary in a 100-plot community garden and playground that forms the centrepiece of a huge swath of new development.  The need was for a shed to hold the tools and dirt and outdoor furniture for this working garden park.  The result goes well beyond something picked up at the local hardware store.

The base design is wonderfully simple, a radial dispersement* of three shipping containers that make up the shed portion of the project.  The way those containers are enveloped and connected is what makes things begin to sing.  Riffing off the corrugated sides of the shipping container, three more sizes of corrugated metal mesh are inset together, creating this nifty conglomeration of transparent 3D planes that shift and change as the angle of your view changes.  Made of a rich and textured material called CorTen (which rusts without falling apart), there’s a nice mix of refinement and roughness that draws the eye.

The real excitement comes where the three radial arms formed by the containers meet.  Again matching the pattern of the corrugation, a series of hexagonal tubes are interlocked and cut to formed a dome with three arched entryways, creating an overhead trellis that frames the sky above.  Placed near the street, the archways form a type of gateway into the site, a playful portico welcoming you to the gardens and playground beyond.

To that end, it is a bit unfortunate that the “roof” of the shed is completely flat, contradicting both the expressiveness of the dome, the latticework, and the mountains on the horizon.  It is a small smidge, however, on an otherwise lively and clever design for what might have been a generic afterthought.  Nice work.

Also, well done Calgary for creating this community garden and the RiverWalk that connects to it as you develop and densify.

The Crossroads Garden Shed by 5468796 Architecture


* Wait, is this not a word?


Wonder Wednesday

September 14, 2016

Wow, this is a cool piece from this year’s Burning Man.  What seems like a bunch 4x4s pounded into the dirt reveals itself at certain angles…


That’s incredible.  Worked at all four corners too.  Super impressive.  Must have been wondrous to discover and experience.

Source here


Wonder Wednesday

October 14, 2015

This is amazing and well worth sharing:

A true scale model of our solar system, over 10km in diameter, complete with planetary orbits.  Beautiful.  A powerful reminder of who we are, where we are, and the wonder of it all.


Architecture Monday

March 16, 2015

click to embiggen



A couple of weekends ago I visited the Ai Weiwei exhibit at Alcatraz, and it reminded me of how much I enjoy installation art. The great grand wiki gives a pretty good description of such art: three-dimensional works that are often site-specific and designed to transform the perception of a space. And it is that latter part especially, space, that is what lands it here on Architecture Monday.

Installation art is installed in a space, altering the space by the fact it is in the space, while itself creating new space by its own form, which we then experience as a new space, both from the space and the object creating space. And I’m being purposefully hyper-verbose and intricate about it, it is a good rendering of the experience of installation art. It’s not just an item intended to be viewed independent of its context, it is inherently tied to its context, which, in many ways, is just like architecture itself. Any building is tied to its context, both physical (site, location, orientation), neighbourly (buildings around it), culturally, socially, historically… which in turn so too is the art contextually tied to cultural, social, historical realms. And in the case of Ai Weiwei, with explicit intent to challenge, awaken, and engage with those contexts to evoke thought, reflection, and create meaning.

So to thus continue the verbose intricacy, installation art is about space tied to a context in a space tied to a context creating space contextually linked to all previous contexts up the chain, while similarly spatially linked, evoking context and space to invite exploration and reflection and heighten any message or meaning intended.

As I said, I really enjoy installation art.