I have been working on a little sketch competition to create a pleasure desk for a well known colleague who is to conclude soon his numerous years of famous lectures and turn them into book volumes.
In Mark’s original lectures and debates on numerous architectural topics was ever present negotiations to how we relate, evolve and subconsciously react to the world that surrounds us, how these relations may affect our ever-changing psychic and physical bodies while recognising the indeterminacy of the external world, and architecture’s oblique place within it.
Inspired by Mark’s unique topics designing a desk for Mark became uniquely oblique question – can a desk as a utilitarian object become an agent in evolving indeterminately functional relationships in architecture space for ever changing physical and psychical satisfaction of needs?
Thinking materially what desk as an object and architecture share are edges of materiality that bodies brush off so often. Greatly unexplored in desk design these corners and edges may be opportunities to address indeterminacy of needs within an interior space and turned into deliciously pleasurable edges, not for one but few people.
As important drive and intrinsic principle that operates at unconscious level that demands gratification of desires and need A Pleasure Desk with Soft Lines for Mark is also a utilitarian object and a potent drive for making it a comfort zone and joy to work at in the office. It could be rotated, moved and adjusted to numerous positions in the room so to relate to students, visitors or colleagues and other pieces of furniture. It has an underneath storage space for various chapters of Mark’s forthcoming volumes, loose items like bags or computer bags and the raised level, un-obstructive shelf for coffee cups, pencils, ashtrays and cigarettes. Desk’s position in the room is indeterminate, hence the introduction of ‘soft lines’ – a tool and an element by which design could be precariously understood – as a pliability to touch similar to other utilitarian objects like a phone, cup or a lighter or as a painter’s depiction of softness and richness of fabric that is in touch with the body. Finally the colour – a first thing that is perceived in the brain, before motion and form – is an element of joy and alteration of space in the room – a table as a source and focus for many events that take place in the room.
The Body Model was an approximation of a look back by a body unaware, a deliberate dispersal of precision of an eye, a trace of body motion left behind yet recorded. Loosely inspired by the looking back present in the Grande Odalisque by Ingres, Manet’s Breakfast on Grass and Lot’s wife myth, the wearable model attempts to harness the temporality of motion present in the body disturbing the precision of the camera.
Ingres paints a woman from the back whose elongated spine, with her upper body outgrown the proportion of her lower body, in order to be able to stretch and turn her head so she could look back. Manet’s naked woman, in the company of two dressed men and a woman, who looks back, gazes daringly into the space outside the place where she seemingly belongs. Lot’s Wife, who looked back, became a pillar of salt. This pillar is a cornerstone around which space evolves in all directions – mythically and geographically.
These, key protagonists of looking back gaze, are displaced, either portrayed as being out of the enclosed world of a harem and given a special position amongst many, or displaced from the fully dressed company of man and another woman, or encroaching into disputable territories from where the space can evolve in various directions. The body model exploits this ambiguity of the location of such gaze – could it be that its location is constantly evolving temporally in space? As the camera is conditioned by the body it’s technically minded lens enters into a borderland where the spatial conditions of an image are unfixed and mutable, evolving the timelines of displacement, fuzzy registrations and uncertain conditions.
Ivan Meštrović’s Psyche (1927, marble) is a response to Auguste Rodin’s Meditation or Inner Voice (1896, plaster). Rodin’s Meditation is one of the very particular works, a sculpture of a woman which appears unfinished, speculated by art historians to be at the border of abstraction announcing 20th century. Originated from one of the figures from timpanum of The Gates of Hell inspired by Michelangelo it was conceived by Rodin as a part of the memorial dedicated to Victor Hugo, the sculpture evolved in its own right, gradually developed through a sculptural process. For more details see: http://www.musee-rodin.fr/en/collections/sculptures/meditation-or-inner-voice.
Meštrović was a great admirer of Rodin and friend of his while in Paris. Rodin himself promised in the letter to Meštrović this plaster cast of the sculpture. After Meštrović exhibition in the Musée Rodin in 2012, the lost letter from Rodin to Meštrović was found in which Rodin promises plaster cast to Meštrović. Because of the war and the death of Auguste Rodin this never occurred until recently. For more details of Meštrović’s work see: http://www.mestrovic.hr.
While distinctly different both sculptures are without hands deeply consumed with the inner feelings separate from the outside world. Interestingly Psyche (the conscious and subconscious, life in a way, mythically represented with small butterfly wings and in love with Eros) is more defined response to forming sculpture by Rodin. Rodin, who was very fond of his Meditation that caused confused response by the public at the time, and whose outlined materiality is one of evolution, and its greatness, for me, is in its embodied temporality.