Wednesday, 20 May 2009

Text Written For "Text Fields" installation "TF002"

Text Fields SITE

TF002 is an exploration of the liminal zone that lies between the kind of quotidian space through which one walks everyday, the sort of enclosure that captures our habitual trajectories -a corridor, a staircase- and the words, the name, the noun, the ‘text’ which denotes that space, signifies it, and categorises it in our minds. Between the thing that denotes, and the experience of what it represents.

‘The Corridor’ is an emphatically mental construct of a definite article and a name, it is an open container of 11 letters which has the ability to encapsulate any number of individual associations, from the memory of hospitals, to the endless labyrinths of nightmares, to -in this case for those involved in the gallery- warm conversations and grandiose discussions about art, and the curation of small exhibitions. The space itself, with its awkward little skylights and concrete floor, is a resolutely physical construct, a passive collection of impressions of cold and warmth, light and dark, echoes and silences, and dirt and colour, all of which are taken up and sensually experienced in any number of ways by each person who passes through it; whether it is the concrete sucking the warmth out of the thin soles of their plimsolls, freezing their feet, or the light from the sunny day outside as it slices the path into pieces through the skylights, and leaves the space disorientating and difficult to navigate.

It is the subjective apprehension of those letters which is a concern of typography. The delicate and calibrated adjustment of the form of the word, of the text, that subtly manoeuvres the tone in which the associations which the word conjures up are received; a form of design in which the scope of subjective mental impressions to which a word may lead – whether hospitals and labyrinths or drinks and openings- are decorated, coloured and unified by a typeface. Where the typographer deals with the subjective experience of the ‘text’, the spatial designer deals in the analogous act of organising the elements of enclosure, in order that they provide a framework for similarly indeterminate, and individual experiences of the object of design -whether they frame and unify the feeling of freezing feet and the disorientation from shafts of blinding light, or the annoyance of having to crouch underneath something and squeeze past people in the impossibly tight space.

TF002 is an act of design precisely positioned between these two complementary practices, an act in which those involved have explicitly attempted to draw the cerebral and associative qualities inherent in the nature of typefaces and text, out into the physical and material space of architecture; and inversely to draw the sensual and impressionistic nature of designed space into the arena of the partially constructed thought. These qualities from the two practices -the qualities from the two which were closer to a relationship of mutual reciprocality between the experience and reading of the space, and its design- were extracted, leaving behind any approach which formed an overtly explicit description of how the space should be read, or experienced. This meant that embodied in the process through which the group arrived at the form of the installation (the formulation of a three dimensional font, the writing of the name of the gallery in space, and the subsequent simulation of that name’s explosion within the gallery, and its freezing and materialisation at a moment of ambiguous eloquence) is a critical distancing from any form of declamatory object-hood on the side of the architecture, and a positioning away from any conclusive declamation of meaning by text from the side of typography. The fact that the research project is called Text Fields and not Text Space or Built Text, is precisely because the group want to create immersive environments of indeterminate origins and ambiguous meaning, in which the usual roles of the various design professions lose their central, fixed functions and roles, and begin to bleed into one another in a field of uninterrupted mental and physical figures and impressions, whose valification lies dually in the freedom of the subject from dictated readings (more towards fields of connotation), and the liberation of the designer from isolated categorisation.

The goals are broad and ambitious, and TF002 is the first built step in the exploration of these themes. It is the first 1:1 physical manifestation of the group and its discussions, and through its realisation has helped to summarize and bring together the issues, and how those issues might be transfigured into a spatial field, something which through the feedback the group has received from the installation, TF002 seems to be doing well.

Next step TF003

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