MATSYS

Archive for August, 2009

P_Wall(2009)

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Year: 2009
Location: San Francisco Museum of Modern Art
Size: 45′ x 12′ x 1.5′

Description: P_Wall (2009) was commissioned by the SFMOMA Architecture and Design Curator Henry Urbach for the exhibition Sensate: Bodies and Design. The wall, part of a series started with P_Wall (2006), is an evolution of the earlier work exploring the self-organization of material under force. Using nylon fabric and wooden dowels as form-work, the weight of the liquid plaster slurry causes the fabric to sag, expand, and wrinkle.

From the exhibition text written by Henry Urbach:

Andrew Kudless’s P_Wall, commissioned by SFMOMA for this exhibition and its permanent collection, marks a radical reinvention of the gallery wall. Typically smooth, firm, regular and, by convention, “neutral,” the gallery wall has shed its secondary status to become a protagonist in the space it lines. Made of one hundred fifty cast plaster tiles — individually formed by pouring plaster over nylon stretched atop wooden dowels — the new wall possesses an unmistakable corporeal quality. Bulges and crevices; love handles and cleavage; folds, pockmarks, and creases: these are among the characteristics of human skin that come to the fore. Contemporary in its effort to capture dynamic forces in static form, P_Wall nonetheless has its origins in the experiments of earlier, 20th century architects including Antoní Gaudí and Miguel Fisác, both of whom investigated the potential of cast material to yield unique, sensual and, at times, bizarre shapes. P_Wall replaces the modern gallery wall with an unwieldy skin that can only approximate the fleshy enclosure that we, as human beings, inhabit throughout the course of our lives.

SFMoMA also produced a short video about the design and fabrication of the wall.

Credits: Andrew Kudless, Chad Carpenter, Dino Rossi, Dan Robb, Frances Lee, Dorothy Leigh Bell, Janiva Ellis, Ripon DeLeon, Ryan Chandler, Ben Golder, Colleen Paz

Weathering (P_Wall)

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Year: 2009
Location: Not in a gallery

Description: The process of weathering is often intentionally resisted (if not completely forgotten) in most contemporary design. This is a legacy of Modernism and its fascination with minimal, timeless, and antiseptic materials. David Leatherbarrow and Mohsen Mostafavi have done an excellent job of mining this ground through architectural history in their book On Weathering (1993). They reveal in this book a long tradition in the design world of working with the act of weathering in a way that enhances the design concept over time. Rather than design in a way that presents the Sisyphean task of negating the influence of time on a project, they document other strategies architects have taken to accept that their buildings will have a life of their own after the drawing board.

This concept has been hovering in the background during the evolution of P_Wall (2006 / 2009) over the last 3 years. When people see the wall, they seem to have an inherent desire to touch it. The hint of softness, the evocative forms, the fabric textures all draw people in, seducing them to feel its rounded curves and deep creases. After each time it has been exhibited, a certain patina can be seen on the pieces: fingerprints here and there, scuffs from handling, etc.

This projects explores the potential weathering of P_Wall. Beyond the simple marks of humans in a gallery environment, the wall is located outside, open to the elements. The undulating forms would collect dust, pollen, soot over time. Moss would take root in the subtle groves of the fabric texture. Birds and other creatures would make the holes their homes.

This is not an exercise in Romanticism. The goal is not to produce a picturesque image of the wall. Rather, there is something about the wall that craves to be touched, to be made unclean, to be used, worn, soiled. Throughout the fabrication of the tiles, spiders would constantly be found making the holes their traps. A fine layer of soot, plaster and saw dust seemed to be constantly attached to the forms. This project accepts these intrusions on the “pure” form and makes them apart of the design. No more resistance, P_Wall accepts the life of the world and changes with it.