Friday, 19 August 2011

Auspicious Canopies

When art mimics architecture and is placed on a contingent extension; a plinth, pedestal, or glass enclosure (as stated in Gottfried Semper's Four Elements of Architecture, 1851.) the extension of the art work, rather than the work itself, negotiates the relationship between the art and the viewer. As such, a canopy is created that acts both as a tool of distraction and immersion (much like Walter Benjamin's view of architecture and film.) that both share similar aspects in the realms of mass perception. They become optical distractions instead of the more favourable alternatives of tactile immersions.

A good example of this in architecture is the Rietveld Schroder House (1924), where art becomes multidimensional and engulfs the viewer, and The Lost House designed by British designer David Adjaye, stuns the viewer with its optical sleekness, and lures the person into illusions of functionality.

The latter lends itself to the sterile servitude of traditional exhibition spaces, where abundances of space mock the dimensions it occupies and keeps both the viewer and the art work in an intermediate state, where very rarely the two ever meet.

These parallel worlds of projection and perception can also be seen in the language used to sell spaces as luxurious art orientated commodities. Where atmosphere is sold at expensive prices and emotions are fixed into the compositions of furniture, the prospective buyer is lured into Plato's cave, to dwell in safety from the sensationalism of outside.

"A series of light wells, internal courtyards, and skylight harness diffused daylight, while dimmable exposed fluorescents set against intensely coloured walls provide moody illumination." (The Lost House description)

A similar motif is analogous to Buddhist and Thanka artwork, originating with the Eight Symbols (Ashtamangala) inscribed on the Buddha's footprint, one of which is the Canopy or Umbrella.

Often depicted as a simulacrum of cloud formations at the peak of a mountain, the canopy's function is to separate the divine from the human, but also to overcome ones ego and to reach enlightenment. A similar dichotomy is shared by the notion that art is to be culturally useful for the masses, but also to be shielded from the masses by sacredly-simulated-exhibition spaces, that all too often attempt to make ego's ascend. and dominate the works of art which they contain.

The reduction of functionality in art , like the reduction of functionality in exhibition spaces and living spaces, unfolds them to a point of spatial uselessness, and in terms of architectural plinth-like structures, or the illusion of desirably fabricated interior space, we are given over to an ironical celebration of meaning and liberated from the false appeal of three-bedroom-suburban-prophecy, but left admiring the immovable theatrics of the purely aesthetic object.

No comments:

Post a Comment