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3 John Street, 1:50: Mise en Abyme
‘3 John Street, 1:50: Mise en Abyme’, Spatial Imagination, DomoBaal Gallery, London, 2006. 3 John Street, 1:50, is a scaled model of the house at 3 St John Street. Sited at the south-eastern corner of the main gallery in the house, it duplicates and reflects the public area where the Spatial Imagination exhibition takes place. A cross between a drawing, a model and a book, 3 John Street, 1:50 reflects my interest in drawing, model making and writing as a means of triggering and recording spatial imagination during the design process. By constructing an exhibit that is also a curatorial tool, curating takes place in two levels: in the real space of the gallery and the ‘imaginary’ space of the model. Exhibit tokens in the scaled version take the form of word-flowers in a glossary garden, that blossoms between the pages of the book. Research Aims: The work has research aims: (1) to explore architectural representation by merging the boundaries between drawing, model and text (2) to reflect on the role of a curator through the design of an exhibit that mirrors the exhibition space at a smaller scale (3) to investigate the literary and visual term mise en abyme and its relevance in theorising architectural representation. Research Context: The exhibition and the accompanying catalogue were the culmination of a series of activities in relation to ‘Spatial Imagination in Design’ research cluster, funded by Designing for the 21st Century, an AHRC and EPSRC initiative (Principal Investigator: Dr Jane Rendell). The work reflects my interest in exhibition design and curating as a vehicle for exploring allegory in architecture. Research Methods: The work employs two research methods: (1) drawing, modelling and writing to produce a hybrid object that questions these traditionally defined areas of spatial representation and poses questions about their role in forming spatial imagination (2) mirroring and creating a dialogue between two practices: architectural drawing and model making, on one hand, and curating, on the other (3) theoretical enquiry into the artistic and literary genre of mise en abyme. Dissemination: Andrea Phillips, Assistant Director of the MA Curating course at Goldsmiths College, London, and Lisa Le Feuvre, writer and curator, were invited respondents, and the work was discussed at Spaces of Exchange, the symposium accompanying the exhibition. A review of the symposium and exhibition appeared in: Richardson, Vicky, ‘Academic Issues of Research: Spatial Imagination’, Blueprint, no. 240, March 2006, 76.
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