Tag Archives: Project 3: Clouds and pillars

Research- Christian Boltanski’s Personnes

Christian Boltanski’s Personnes Exhibition 2010:

Personnes Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photo by Didier Plowy, Monumenta MCC.

Personnes Exhibition at the Grand Palais, Paris, 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photo by Didier Plowy, Monumenta MCC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Clothes close up from; Personnes Exhibition, The Grand Palais, Paris 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photograph by Didier Plowy Monumenta MCC.

Clothes close up from; Personnes Exhibition, The Grand Palais, Paris 2010 by Christian Boltanski. Photograph by Didier Plowy Monumenta MCC.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ART or DESIGN

TEMPORARY or PERMANENT

LARGE SCALE or SMALL SCALE

TRANSFORMING and/or DEFINING and/or FORMING

IMMERSIVE and/or DISTANT

PATTERN and/or COLOUR and/or REPETITION and/or SHAPE

In addition to reading Laura Cumming’s review in The Guardian Online; Christian Boltanski: Personnes, 17 Jan 2010 I watched Tateshots: Christian Boltanski  and Vernissage TV’s Interview; Christian Boltanski in conversation with Christophe Ecoffet 2010. 

The noise of heartbeats permeates the exhibition, why do you think that may be?

Partly I think it’s to make the exhibition an even more immersive experience; not only are you seeing things which are fragments of peoples lives, in the clothes on the floor, but you’re hearing the sound of a human heartbeat as you walk around. Boltanski himself (in the Vernissage video above), says he ‘collects’ heartbeat’s, that you can ‘preserve the heartbeat but you can’t preserve the person’. To me this suggests it’s a way of reinforcing the idea of impermanence and human mortality, a heartbeat is a unique thing in every individual which can only be heard when the person is alive. It has an odd effect of acting as a memento mori.

To what extent are the textiles transformed into something other than fabric?

The clothes as suggested by Laura Cumming in the guardian really becoming a metaphor for human life. Their clinical, square formation is suggestive of the organised coldness and brutality of the destruction of human life in Nazi Concentration Camps. Perhaps today the clothes remind us of the refuge crisis, of countless numbers of people struggling to and sometimes not managing to survive.

What’s the significance of the installation title – and of the mechanical grabber?

The word ‘personnes’ has a dual meaning in french –  ‘people’ and ‘nobodies’ – it perfectly frames the exhibition, with it’s contents so rich with cultural and visual connotation but so absent of actual human identification – the people alluded to by the clothing and the numbered biscuit tins are never identified by name or face or ethnicity, they remain anonymous.

The significance of the mechanical grabber – the mechanical grabber according to Boltanski is to represent the ‘element of chance’ or ‘the finger of God’ that one moment you can be alive, and the next you could be dead, without having any control over when or how that happens. I see associate the mechanical grabber and the mound of clothing more with human waste, again another trace of human existence. But also with issues of sustainability and our throw-away culture. But the idea of consumerism/waste issues is kind of dismissed by the arrangement of the clothes and the rusted poles/neon lights which create a path towards the mechanical grabber.

What associations does this work conjure up in your mind?

The first association that came to mind was the holocaust, and the remains of people, items of clothing, shoes, that were left behind by those killed by the Nazi’s during that period in history. I’ve never been to the holocaust museum but I’ve heard part of what remains there are big piles or displays of shoes and belongings of those who were in concentration camps.

The wall of biscuit tins with numbers at the entrance to the main exhibit also brings up associations with genocide or mass murder, the de-humanisation of people, reducing them to clinical cold numbers. The rusting poles and white neon lights, again have an industrial or cold feel to them, a visual reminded to the aesthetic of a lab or a warehouse, for me it reinforces that idea of people being ill treated or worse. The mechanical and methodical action of the grabber lifting and dropping the clothes brings to mind a sense of detachment and randomness. The machine is unfeeling – it has no ability to consider human life etc.

The sound of the heartbeats – heard as unique sounds by each square of clothing and as a mass in one unified beat which fills the hall, are suddenly eerie in this context. A heartbeat could be a sound that brings Joy – the sound of an unborn baby, a sign of life, or the closeness of someone, but in this context it’s a memento mori, a sad sound which reminds the listener of the inevitability of death.

Further reading on the artist Christian Boltanski: Grove Art Online Biography. 

Project 3: Exercise 1 ~ Straub Moquette & Semiotics

For this exercise I’ve been asked to consider the work we did in Part Three on visual communications, then consider; what function Straub’s textile is serving other than providing something hard-wearing to sit on?

I’ll start by explaining how I came to find a moquette fabric which Straub had designed in 1970 and then I’ll approach a semiotic analysis of it.

'Straub' Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

‘Straub’ Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

I found on the London Transport Museum’s shop page a moquette fabric entitled Straub, which was named after it’s designer Marianne Straub and was applied to all new buses and trains entering service between 1969-1978. A little bit further digging around and I found a link to a photograph from the London Transport Museum Collection, of the ‘Straub’ moquette in use during the 1970’s on a new Piccadilly car (see photo below).

 

 

'Straub' moquette textile in Piccadilly carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

‘Straub’ moquette textile in Piccadilly carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

In my process of digging around the internet  I also came across an interview with Marianne Straub in The Christian Science Monitor; Creating Artwork to Sit Upon, By Christopher Andreae, August 7 1990. 

Whilst the interview doesn’t shed any light on the choice for the design of ‘Straub’ moquette specifically it does highlight Marianne Straub’s love of hand weaving and for her the importance of a collaborative approach when designing textiles.

 

 

 

A more contemporary example of an approach to creating textiles for public transport can be seen in an interview for Mid-Century Magazine; A seat on the train: an interview with textile designers Wallace Sewell, By Hilary Light.  Within the interview the inspiration behind creating a modern moquette fabric for Transport for London (TfL) is discussed. In the discussion use of colour and inspiration are mentioned; “incorporating various abstracted London landmarks in the design”. Later in the interview she speaks of creating “strong exciting designs, that are bold, perform, yet fit an exacting industrial brief. I feel that having a strong considered design around us can be a positive addition to one’s life – making one respond, even if in an unconscious way!”. The mention of design having a ‘positive addition’ or unconscious impact is interesting and what I want to try and decode by using semiotic analysis of the ‘Straub’ fabric.

Semiotic Analysis:

On p.134 of; This Means This This Means That: A user’s guide to semiotics, second edition, by Sean Hall, an explanation of the distinction between connotation and denotation when applied to object is discussed. The example given is in clothing, that it’s not just ‘what we wear (denotation) but how we wear them (connotation)’ (p.134 Hall) that informs our understanding.

So here’s my consideration; it’s not just the appearance, colours, forms of the ‘Straub’ fabric (denotation) it’s the context or application of the fabric (connotation) which frames our understanding of its purpose.

For the purposes of this exercise I’m going to refer to ‘Straub’ as seen in use in the photograph of the Piccadilly Carriage below (and above):

'Straub' moquette textile in Piccadilly carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

‘Straub’ moquette textile in Piccadilly carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

Denotation: A repeated pattern of connected Light blue, dark blue and green coloured fabrics is woven together to form the fabric. The fabric is not smooth/has a tactile quality.

The fabric has been applied to/covering metal seats which run in an ordered line along the length of the train carriage. The fabric is attached to the cushions of/padding on the seats.

The carriage is mostly formed of metal, or plastic, other features include a wooden floor (perhaps), and some advertisements along the edges of the ceiling.

 

Connotation: The train is used to help people get to and from work, it is also used by people going about their day to day lives. The fabric provides a back drop for this activity. The fabric’s colour adds vibrancy and interest to an otherwise dull carriage. The use of colour here could be seen to be important (I’m not an expert on Colour theory), but simply put, blue is the colour of sky, water, it’s something we see everyday as is green the colour of earth, both colours could be seen to reinforce a sense of calm or grounding. They give the carriage a sense of order which seems important if people of different backgrounds will be using it. The shapes of the pattern are simple; even abstract, lines, rectangles, they could mirror the shapes or forms seen in the London skyline, buildings etc. To me this again becomes a visual reminder of why people travel/where people live (i.e. to work, they work in the city).

Tactile – the fabric used is not only practically hard wearing it was a tactile quality. This tactile quality might encourage touch of the fabric and even an association of pleasure or the creation of an more welcoming or comfortable environment. The use of fabric covering suggests a concern with the comfort of the traveller not just the mechanics of the train/operating it. It is not necessary for the seats to be covered in fabric or given padding for them to be usable (functional as seats), but fabric is applied to encourage comfort and I guess by extrapolation the use of the train (an incentive).

I’m not sure how much further I can extrapolate meanings or connotations from this example, so I’m going to finish my attempted analysis there.

Project 3: Research ~ Yayoi Kusama, Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec & Marianne Straub

Yayoi Kusama: Infinity Mirrored Room 1998

Yayoi Kusama; Infinity Mirrored Room,1998 Les Arbattoirs, Toulouse - Photo: Jean- Luc Auriol.

Yayoi Kusama; Infinity Mirrored Room,1998 Les Arbattoirs, Toulouse – Photo: Jean- Luc Auriol.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art or Design

Temporary or Permanent

Large Scale or Small Scale

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

Immersive and/or Distant

Pattern and or/Colour/and or Repetition/and or Shape

I found some further examples of her work, which also feature repeated shapes, forms, colour, across a variety of surfaces on the Patternity site. 

She works across multiple surfaces, applying her dots in various scales and colours, to plastic forms such as Pumpkins, onto fabrics in collaboration with designers (namely Louis Vuitton) and using mirrors to create an illusion of infinite repetition of these forms.

 

Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec: Clouds

Multiple forms and colour combinations; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

Multiple forms and colour combinations; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Art or Design

Connecting tiles for; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

Connecting tiles for; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

I wasn’t sure at first how to characterise the ‘clouds’, on the one hand they were produced from a designers perspective, looking for a solution to our increasingly cold, white environments. But on the other hand the end result is akin to art work and has an individualistic or unique element; the client can make any form or shape they want out of 11 different coloured fabric tiles. It feels to me like design for a creative or artistic end result.

 

Temporary or Permanent

Again this is a tricky choice – the fact that the tiles can be disconnected and reconnected any number of times gives the forms a temporary feel. But these clouds could remain in one household or office for the long-term, even permanently.

Large Scale or Small Scale

I’ve selected both scales, because the forms are able to be made to whatever size is desired.

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

 

Smaller version; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

Smaller version; Clouds by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec. Photo by Paul Tahon.

On their website the designers describe the clouds as having ‘significant impact on our rooms’. They also say it’s the culmination of research about ‘reintroducing the textile element into our environment to make it warm and calm’. To me, those statements sound like the aim of the textiles is to transform or enhance whatever environment they’re put into.

The ‘clouds’ themselves have an organic nature, in that they can be ‘transformed’ by adding or removing more tiles.

 

 

 

Immersive and/or Distant

Absolutely Immersive – these are tactile soft to the touch, meant for adding colour, warmth, life to an area.

Pattern and or/Colour/and or Repetition/and or Shape

I guess I could’ve highlighted all of the categories above (pattern could be created using the tile shapes and colour variations).

Here’s a link to a video in which Ronan & Erwan Bouroullec talk about use of the cloud tiles to divide or adapt spaces:

 

 

Marianne Straub: Moquette textile 1970

Moquette Fabric in use on Bus.

Moquette Fabric in use on Bus.

Art or Design

Temporary or Permanent

Large Scale or Small Scale

Transforming and/or Defining and/or Forming

Immersive and/or Distant

Pattern and or/Colour/and or Repetition/and or Shape

 

 

'Straub' Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

‘Straub’ Moquette Fabric 1970 by Marianne Straub.

Straub Moquette textile in picadily carriage opened by queen Photographed by LT, 16 December 1977

‘Straub’ Moquette textile in use in Interior of Piccadilly line carriage opened by Her Majesty the Queen, Photographed by London Transport, 16 December 1977.

 

 

Project 3: Research – Zaha Hadid Sackler Gallery extension

The Serpentine Sackler Gallery, extension was commissioned in 2009-2013. A gallery of two different parts, a converted 19th century brick building and a 21st century textile based structure (designed by Zaha Hadid Architects). The structure is made from tensile created from glass-fibre and forms a curved canopy which looks a bit like a sting ray crossed with a space ship (that’s just what I think).

I read an article about it in the Dezeen Magazine online, Serpentine Sackler Gallery by Zaha Hadid. Also in The Architectural Review; Zaha Hadid’s Serpentine Extension exploits old and new. 

Serpentine Sackler Gallery Extension; Front facing view. Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects, photograph by Luke Hayes.

Serpentine Sackler Gallery Extension; Front facing view. Architects: Zaha Hadid Architects, photograph by Luke Hayes.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Project 3: Research textiles in context pt.1

I started to take some photos using the camera on my phone for the research towards assignment 5. The assignment focuses on the use of textiles in everyday contexts and asks us to consider textiles as artwork, upholstery, curtains. For the purposes of the assignment it looked like a place with a range of and varied use/application of textiles would be most beneficial.

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