Jürgen Mayer H. is interested in the interstice. Having established his practice in Berlin in 1996, he and his office have been feverish in questioning the possibilities of intersecting the profession of architecture with sculpture, industrial design, and natural and societal phenomena. The oeuvre of projects ranges from the rapid design and construction of the airport in Mestia, Georgia, to the heat seat that is continually marked by the temperature of its users and environs. There remains, however, a common thread that is looking, even grasping, for a new approach to how space is generated.
RAPPORT. EXPERIMENTS WITH SPATIAL STRUCTURE, the installation currently on view at the Berlinische Galerie, moves deeper into this search, but by different means. There are echoes of previous projects, such as FULL.HOUSE, in which every surface was wrapped with a numbered textile, calling to mind the endless parade of digits in a security code. But between the entrance-hall-scale of the text[ile] and the subtlety of its oscillation between being and non-being, RAPPORT is just what its title suggests: an attempt to construct a play of relationships between spatial elements.
The boundaries of the project are deliberately played with. The textile spills out of the entrance hall into the atrium and extrude up at its extents to try and negotiate a more three-dimensional relationship with viewers. I find the effect more successful when you are either completely enveloped in it or distantly taking it in from the level above. The graphic interplay of black and white is an interwoven text of body-sized numbers running along most surfaces of the hall. The number as a figure, however, when standing within the installation, becomes nearly illegible: the black becomes a vector of potential pathways, while the white oscillates gently between materialities. It is a pleasant surprise when your feet feel the small shift between white as polished concrete and white as carpet through the space. Taking it in from the level above, the content of the marks comes into focus, and so does the peculiarity of how museum-goers try to interact with it. There is a curious interplay between wanting to read it like an object on a wall, which it sometimes is, and wanting to tread over it casually like a domestic rug.
RAPPORT is perhaps more of an instigation of friction or discomfort between conditions that we take for granted as static. Jürgen Mayer H. has also made this installation a distructive element, breaking down the legible limits of the space that it has parasitically co-opted. The edges and corners of the entrance hall are swallowed into an in-between of two-dimensional representation and three-dimensional experiential space. Thus, the installation continues to be a question, not an answer, and for that I am excited to return for another chance to ask.
J. MAYER H.
RAPPORT. EXPERIMENTS WITH SPATIAL STRUCTURE
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Blog entry and photographs by Elizabeth Feder, Tuesday, Oct. 17, 2011
Elizabeth Feder is an architect and writer from New York City currently based in Berlin. She received her BArch from The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art and recently completed her research project entitled, “Between Transience and Permanence: a New Reactivation of the Berlin Block” with the Deutscher Akademischer Austausch Dienst.