First Office


What you are about to read should be obvious, but a prefatorial statement is necessary. An installation without a prefatorial statement is not an installation, right? Also, a written statement is technically required here, in this place. [1] Worse still, without one this becomes a sort of installation, an installation without the proper authorization, an alien without the proper papers. In fact, only when it's prefaced is it worthy of bearing that name: Installation. Maybe this is because the authority of the installation statement relieves me of the necessity to fully describe to you the work that I’ve done. A statement, in other words, leaves open the possibility that your participation is a definitive characteristic of the installed work. Like I said, maybe this is obvious. Regardless, I hope we can agree that a prefatorial statement is a convention in the genre of architecture installations. And so, here is mine.

I do not know if this installation will be of any real interest to you. It took a rather pleasing turn in its realization. Its content is fairly entertaining. Its forms are fairly fantastic. Its details are fairly natural. The odd mixture of references gives conventional things (lights, paint, carpet, etc.) an almost exceptional air. All of this makes me hopeful that it meets the minimal conditions of being interesting. But beginning with my impressions may be the wrong way to start my installation statement. Starting with my conclusions, however, satisfies a core requirement for any such statement: it shows that I wrote it after the whole thing was fully thought out. As they say, "after all is said and done." It puts the installation on solid ground, as it were, but it disappointingly falls short of making a statement about statements. Maybe I can blame that particular shortcoming on the fact that not many texts exist on the architecture installation statement. Maybe this is the first one, or a preface to the first one. Many texts exist on installations in art, of course. And artists have plenty of texts written about the prefatorial statement; there are numerous texts written about titles, even. But art installations also find their footing in other disciplines, often referencing statements from the history of literature. To find a proper precedent for architecture installations, we might just as well look to the literary preface.

A preface is an odd thing. Published first, written last. A preface functions as a necessity, whose necessity is immediately defeated by the work that follows. My title states this is a preface, but by writing the word with a strikethrough it also indicates that it's something else. This is perhaps a vulgar way of indicating that the text you are reading is erasing the purpose of the title which preceded it. But I rather like how it calls a word into question that we assumed we understood but whose meaning we are now no longer sure about. A preface, like a title, reasserts its authority only to be continually defeated by the thing that follows. This has led to the presumption that the preface should not be taken seriously, that the real work is what comes after. But sometimes the peripheral work is all that exists, if only by accident. Perhaps these reflexive acts of erasure and reduction are at the center of this project, if that's possible. Let's consider the possibility of solely producing these peripheral things that we might never have confronted in any other context but a blank installation. An installation with presence but no content. The preface sits on this periphery. Like so many other conventions, it serves as the threshold between an installed work and its constituents, much like the project credits, the title wall, the brochure, the poster, the rendered image, the bio, the headshot, the opening, the gallery talk. If, like the preface, these things are often defeated by the work, what should we make of these customs? Are they simply a series of disciplinary habits left over from previous generations? Or worse yet, have we borrowed them from other disciplines to obscure the fact that we don't have any conventions of our own? This installation is mostly about working through these peripherals to question the status of a genre's conventions. After all, what would an installation be without floors and lights and walls and paint and posters?

It should be obvious, but this installation isn't an empty container waiting to be filled, or an imposed absence in the wake of withdrawal or in the name of sobriety. It's about facing the strange blankness of an installation about an installation's liminal elements. It's about those things that take up so much time and consume so much of the budget. It's about reading something when there is nothing there to read. It likes to quibble. Or maybe it's even more obvious. Maybe, like the title (that we are no longer sure about) this installation is about the anxiety produced by blankness and the terrifying struggle with the terrifying question, Are you sure this is enough? Or is it too much?

...And Pedestals

The gallery is a rectangle. It is a 24'6-3/4"x 59'2-1/8" space bounded on five sides by an east wall, a west wall, a south wall, a north wall and a floor. The gallery has no ceiling, it is open to the space above. There is a room above the south end of the gallery. The installation divides the gallery across its 24'6-3/4" dimension with a new wall. The height of the new wall is equal to the height of the underside of the room above the south end of the gallery. The new wall is placed 13'2-5/16" from the north wall and runs perpendicular to the north wall from the east wall to the west wall. The new wall creates two rooms. The first room is to the south of the wall and is larger than the second room. The room above the south end of the first room divides the first room into two spaces. The lower space is the space underneath the lowered ceiling and the higher space is not below the lowered ceiling. The lower space has existing concrete floors, an existing exposed steel deck ceiling and existing white walls freshly painted with white paint that is supplied by SCI-Arc. The higher space has white wall to wall carpet. There is a metal transition strip between the carpet floor in the higher space and the concrete floor in the lower space. The other three edges of the carpet are flush with the east wall, the west wall, and the new wall. Three pedestals sit in the first room, in the higher space, on the carpet. The pedestals are in the form of truncated cones. They are all the same. The bottom diameter is 12'-0". The top diameter is 6'-0". The center of the top is shifted 1'-6" off center from the bottom and is 3'-0" off the ground. The pedestals are made of wood. They are painted white with white paint that is supplied by SCI-Arc. There are six projectors hung from the ceiling of the higher space in the first room. Each pedestal has two projectors projecting light onto the pedestal for a total of six projectors. The projectors are secured to the concrete joists above with rated structural anchors and are hung from the ceiling using extruded aluminum 80/20. They are 10'-0" off the floor. They project animated white light that people will not be able to see very well. The second room is blank. Ten 1'-8" white box fans sit on top of the east wall, spaced 4'-0" o.c.. The entire space will be masked using blue painter's tape before it is freshly painted white using white paint that is supplied by SCI-Arc.

1. See Terms of the SCI-Arc,Exhibitors Agreement