Tag Archives: architecture

Gregor Neuerer; Left but a Trace

I liked Gregor Neuerer, and I thought his work was of interest. However it doesn’t detract from an element of irony in the title of his latest exhibition; at least there is irony for me having listened to his lecture! It left a trace, but it was but a trace! I found the presentation reminiscent of Paul Eachus’s lecture; in the way it was delivered. Neuerer was delivering his lecture almost word for word from a prepared text. He did however make an effort to counterpoint this with short spurts of ad libbing. Despite a less than brilliant manner in delivering his lecture, I found the content of some interest.

Architectural Yet Abstract

Neuerer’s work included places in the city (of London) where people interact in ways differently to how an architect or designer may have intended.

Strangely, when he moved into a studio in London, Gregor Neuerer began making sketches using his position in the room as a method for working. He marked pencil onto the wall, from the confines of his chair, the result being a circular form with its darkest point in the middle and then graduated shading outward. The basis and context for these sketches was complex; architectural in origin but with the primary notion of confinement in architectural space and constant revisiting of the same place- at least this is how I understood it.

At the same time as working on the drawing, he coincidentally discovered an all but identical mark on the wall, outside a tube station just about the level of the pavement. The same dark patch at the centre and graduation out to nothing. It transpired that this patch was caused by a beggar sitting in the same place each day and rubbing against the wall.

Gregor Neuerer - Left but a Trace

Great work and ideas come from strange coincidence like this. Not only was the resultant shape identical, Neuerer’s original concepts were about revisiting places. Brilliant.

Later works were more developed conceptually, so far though that – for me – gaining an understanding of what the aim of the work is, was extremely difficult. It is apparently very abstract; something the artist seemed to acknowledge and (in fact) he said he was aiming for it.

Although much of the work was “real” – and interesting to me because of that – Neuerer “faked” these black marks in other situations. Creating a similar effect, but doing it himself rather than identifying places that it was occurring naturally. I really didn’t like that. Loosing the raw reality really detracts from it.

Good things; the way his ideas came together. Despite the complexity, I think the artistic logic was good. He seemed to have well thought through ideas that were presented on almost every different “level”.

Bad; despite the simplicity of presentation, the context itself is extremely deep. This seemed out of balance some how – “top heavy”.

Overall though, I was intrigued about the work, and although I don’t think I enjoyed the work myself- in terms of learning it was certainly useful.

Cornerhouse Qualms

I’ve found a slight edge of nervousness inherent in the Cornerhouse’s Tuesday Talks – this lecture was an example of that. Although the intent is obviously otherwise the way in which the question and answers session at the end of each lecture is handled seems to stifle discussion rather than promote it. I always feel terrified about asking a question. Funnily, after the Q&A session at this lecture – which featured only 1 or 2 questions from the audience and conjecture from the lectures’ curator Pavel B├╝chler the first non-official question to the artist was “So… how is the smoking in Vienna?”. Although I didn’t learn anything from it, it made me smile!

Disperate Magazine (.com), Architecture & Giant Mirrors

Until June this year, I lived with an architecture student. As a result, I’ve had many discussions about the subject, mainly in relevance to my friend’s (Matt) study and practice. Its a subject that really inspires me. A significant factor in contemporary architecture seems to be the prevalence of symbiotic, bland, and ever-similar designs in all, or at least many, of our cities and towns.

Everywhere I go block after block of seemingly identical residential and office buildings spring up. Week after week.
Making matters worse, these entirely uninspired architectural works, are the very things that today’s up-and-coming affluent young-professionals aspire to own and live in.

Although I would love to be in that such a “flush” position myself, actually aspiring to reside in such a dull and everyday entity seems an awful prospect.

It has sprung to mind, because over the weekend I assisted another friend in setting up his website for a forthcoming publication, in paper and online, Disparate Magazine. I think one of the key areas that the magazine is set to have a standpoint on is potential disconnection between a place, what that place actually represents, and the actual buildings that make up the landscape; especially with regard to the urban built environment. Its a complex subject, but certainly one that I’m interested in.

As an aside, this then got me thinking about my one, grand, architectural idea. Its something that I’ve been thinking about since well before my days as an artist. I may have come up with the idea originally at school, but I can certainly remember thinking about whilst sat in my office at Hilmore House, working for Morrisons Supermarkets.

Sunlight was a precious commodity, in my eyes at least. For some of the year, for some of the daylight hours, my office would have plenty of sunlight streaming in through the windows. However, much of the time was spent admiring a shadow on the opposite side of the road slowly working its ways up the buildings. I could see the powerful and precious light, within a few meters of where I was sitting; yet it was never rarely actually reached me. I was forced to sit and wish I were sat in the sunlight.

Although the idea came whilst sitting at my work desk, in front of a computer screen, I’m continually reminded of the problem. Any town or city I visit; inevitably one (or both) sides of a street suffer in someway. Our precious sunlight is continuously blocked, wherever you are. For instance, almost all the streets in the centre of Manchester are lined with buildings so tall, that throughout most of the day one side of the street is always plunged into darkness; and its the same story in any city you choose to visit. Even smaller towns have the same issue. It even extends to residential streets; often some houses are deprived of a huge amount of their light due to shadows cast by surrounding buildings (or such like).

I was reminded of it again – and again discovered an idea that I came up with, but someone else has also come up with entirely separately – whilst watching a TV documentary yesterday. It was a programme about “the Sun”, in general, but featured a small town in Austria. The town sits behind a huge hill, and for 8 months of the year gets absolutely no sunlight (resulting in high cases of Seasonal Affective Disorder). The SAD affect is highlighted here, because the town just over the river, which doesn’t sit in the shadow of the hill, has far fewer cases of SAD. They have come up with the same idea that I had; use a series of giant mirrors to bounce sunlight around and provide it to areas that don’t receive it naturally.

Although not implemented yet, there are plans to build a network of mirrors around the town so that through the winter sunlight will be available to the townspeople.

My concept has mainly been focused on cities; I envisage setting up extremely large mirrors on the tops of city buildings. There mirrors will track the sun, and move to the correct angle so as to redirect the sunlight (visible at the top of the building) down to street level. The same could be applied anywhere though; on a much larger scale in the deep and dark valleys of the Alps in Europe (and doubtless many other similar places throughout the world). The valleys could have access to the natural light. Light that has proved health benefits.

I must develop the concept further, and get some drawings done.

Something that I’ve always loved, is “remote control”, and I think that this has shades of that in it. I used to have a train set, and the thing I loved about it was not necessarily the trains, but the fact that they could be controlled without touching them. I knew how it worked, the electric circuit was obvious to me; but somehow it intrigued me immensely. This has continued throughout my life, with many remote control toys and gadgets. Most recently my immersion in using the Internet, both for “business and pleasure” (as it were) has meant I have access to hundreds of other permutations of the idea of controlling something through a distance, or without actually touching it.

I can access my home computers from anywhere, not just the files, I have remote control of the actual computer. I can get my email sent to my mobile phone. I can control my computer through my mobile phone. I can send information to my websites through mobile, email, web. Even a BT payphone would allow me to update my websites. Adding imagery into all this, I can actually look into my own home, from anywhere in the world, and get a live picture of whatever is (or isn’t) going on there.

I think the giant street mirrors, are born from this interest in remote control. Its an almost identical “joy” that I experience thinking about it. It is even better in a way. Although all the internet and technology things are extremely clever, and that interests me no-end, the fact that a mirror is such a simple and “understood” (by almost anyone) thing I think it adds to how accessible and really “real” the concept is.