Magazine article Sculpture

Commissions

Magazine article Sculpture

Commissions

Article excerpt

LEAD PENCIL STUDIO

Inversion +/-

Portland, OR

Seattle-based artists Annie Han and Dan Mihalyo¡Xwho have worked under the name Lead Pencil Studio since the 1990s¡X recently completed their largest project to date. Located in Southeast Portland, Inversion +/- consists of three separate structures that mark the ends of viaducts connecting to bridges over the Willamette River¡Xtwo at Hawthorne Bridge and one a few blocks north at Morrison Bridge. As Han describes the structures, ¡§The first two appear as spatial solids, and the third is a spatial void.¡

Not surprisingly, Han and Mihalyo both have backgrounds in architecture (they met while attending architecture school at the University of Oregon). Inspired by Portland¡s industrial history and ever-changing landscape, their new public project creates abstract representations of buildings that residents have interpreted as ghosts of the past, monuments to the present, and harbingers of the future. ¡§The primary idea was to re-introduce or ¡¥build-out¡ the edges of the pre-existing architecture,¡ Han explains, ¡§demarcat[ing] space, vertical surfaces, human scale, and ultimately a place where previously there was anti-space, particularly for people walking and biking.¡

This ¡§anti-space¡ largely stemmed from viaducts created in the 1950s, when an infrastructure boom dictated by car culture demolished residential neighborhoods in favor of wider roads and highways. Until recently, the area around the viaducts was home to light manufacturing and a warehouse district. Now, the area is changing again, with people and small businesses moving back in. Lead Pencil Studio¡s project was commissioned as part of a new streetcar line that will soon complete a loop through Portland, connecting the east side of the river to the west side (and downtown).

Although Han admits that reactions to Inversion have been mixed¡X¡§some people are clearly opposed to the appearance of Cor-ten steel, mistaking it for something that will rust away¡¡Xshe notes that those who appreciate the project most are pedestrians and cyclists, the very people that the artists hoped to engage: "In the end, we want the project to be visually compelling, perfect for its place, and as complex as its site."

rAndom INTERNATIONAL

Tower: Instant Structure for Schacht XII

Essen, Germany

Since 2002, the Ruhrtriennale has invited artists and performers to reactivate industrial spaces in the Ruhr valley with temporary projects. Last year, the central shaftof the Zoll - verein Coal Mine Industrial Complex hosted Tower: Instant Structure for Schacht XII, a giant, four-sided waterfall designed by the London-based collective rAndom International.

Originally founded in the mid-19th century, the Zollverein Coal Mine was one of the largest in Europe when it closed just over 20 years ago. Its central shaft, ShaftXII (designed in the Bauhaus style by architects Fritz Schupp and Martin Kremmer in the 1930s), cemented the complex's reputation as "the most beautiful coal mine in the world." ShaftXII became a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2001.

Working at the intersection of art and technology, rAndom International raises questions related to robotics, human behavior, and cognitive science. Last year at MoMA, their Rain Room invited visitors to step into a space seemingly filled with torrents of falling water. Motion censors, however, turned offthe waterspouts whenever someone stepped directly under them, so anyone walking, running, or dancing through the downpour stayed dry. …

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