‘Bearings, permutations of an office floor’ evolved out of an early 2015 artist residency with NY poet Claudia La Rocco at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council, which took place in a temporary studio space located on an abandoned office floor in New York. Initial ideas and structures for a work dealing with questions of belonging and orientation evoked by the non-place, were sketched out during that residency. In the years following, these were then developed further into more specific forms.
As surrounding structures, the bare office modules provide so minimal a definition, offer so little perspective to hold on to, that the inhabitant is thrown back to his mechanisms of orientation and reflection to gain a sense of self. Being mere abstractions of space almost, without intrinsic function, quality or meaning, fully exchangeable between one another or with similar modules on other office floors for that matter, the modules provide the metaphor for the cultural confusion that we find ourselves in at large.
Conceived and composed specifically for an abandoned office floor, ‘Bearings, permutations of an office floor’ investigates a poetics of space and identity. Situated within the duality of place/no place that such a location inherently seems to evoke, the work explores both the process of defocussing and our ways of repositioning in response, utilising rudimentary experiments and pocket studies on the act of placing ourselves.
The work consists of two interrelated parts. One is a manifold site specific installation piece in which the individual modules of an abandoned office floor (or comparable structure) serve as sites for a series of small scale instalments. Spatial/Visual arrangements, acoustic transformations and performative meditations relate cultural instances, sensorial exercises and participatory instructions within a larger composition of etudes that traverses the office floor. Informed by poetic pondering on notions of environment, locality, perception and communication, the modules playfully consider and suggest orientational solutions.
The second part of the work is a set of instructive postcards. These score postcards contain descriptions of the individual instalments that compile the piece, one per postcard. The postcards would be sent out by mail on request and function as instructions for a secondary author to build an adaptation of the piece site specifically. The descriptions would only be structural in nature so that specific details of the instalment would always be left to interpretation, allowing for a range of variable compositions of the exhibition.
Following are selected examples of Bearings modules (these are under continuous development and to be altered or expanded according to the available venue)
. Soft Seating: a room with soft seating/tatami on the floor. A small rack to place one’s shoes and stand to hang one’s coat. Instructions for breathing/ listening/ meditation exercise are made available in the room
. Etude on Listening #1: 5 – 7 shortwave radios are symmetrically placed on small pedestals, quietly transmitting. Upon entering, the visitor is instructed to carefully listen to the composition, choose one radio and tune it to either a next broadcast of choice or noise to then leave the room
. Balancing Act: a room with a chair placed in its centre facing towards a window. Two loudspeakers mounted on the walls at ear height on either sides of the chair. Once few minutes, randomly, a loud pulse is heard to trigger the acoustic response of the space. Once every few minutes, randomly from the other speaker, a sustained voice is heard tuning with the resonant frequencies of the space.
. Sur Face: a room with a music stand and score. A number of musicians visit the room on a daily basis at a freely chosen moment during opening hours of the exhibition. Each performs for 2 hours, in a very spacious though structured pattern that includes extended silences, single sustained tones played from the corners and moving along surfaces in the room
. Positions: a room filled with audience seating; as many seats as are needed to fill the room given some clearance around the edges, equally aligned and facing the same direction. The rows are positioned diagonally, with the chairs at the edges cut to seem to ‘disappear’ into the wall
. Silence To Noise Ratio: a room with an armchair and a book lying on a side table.Instructions on the table to read one passage out loud and one in silence from either the provided book or from a book one carries
. The Wise Owl Gazes Backwards: a room with visual instructions for the 8 basic qigong movement mounted on the wall. In the room quietly spoken instructions for the same movements can be heard as well
. Sitting In A Room: a room with two speakers mounted on opposing walls. A playback is heard of a provided piece of text that was read out loud in the room beforehand, recorded and played back in the same room over many iterations, to start and depict a process of acoustic filtering caused by the room’s resonance characteristics. Gradually intelligible speech develops into to abstract sounds behaving in a speech pattern. Once completed, the recording loops
. Dividing A Room: floor of the room is completely covered with grass. From the entrance to the opposite wall, a line in the grass is drawn by continuously walking back and forth, dividing the room in 2 halves. A video is shown in the room of the first line being made in that room. Audience is asked to continue to draw the line more firmly on the grass
. Stacking; a room with stones of different sizes covering the floor. A number of small cairns (erected piles of stones used as ceremonial landmarks/trail marks used in a variety of outdoor environments) will be made. Visitors will be invited to create additional cairns out of the dispersed stones in the room. A speaker driver quietly emitting the sound of wind will be installed
. Weather Room #2: a room filled with smoke using a smoke or fog machine. In the room a small fan is placed as well to gently stir the smoke. Door of the room should be closed at all times. The room can only be seen through its glass walls, but never entered
. Songline: a room with the floor covered by a bed of sand, with some smaller dunes to appear. A speaker driver is hanging just above floor level projecting quietly a recording of an aboriginee ‘dreaming track song’
. Blind Space; a room completely whitened (including furniture and smaller items). A small speaker driver is mounted in the room, continuously and quietly transmitting an electronic tone tuned to the strongest resonance of the space. Amplified by the physical dimensions, the tone appears to be omnipresent; the room is humming its intrinsic voice