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Repetition to Monochrome
Refereed paper: Yeoryia Manolopoulou, ‘Repetition to Monochrome: Surfaces for Picture Making by Herzog & de Meuron and Ellsworth Kelly’, The Journal of Architecture (Volume 14, Issue 3, 2009), pp 407-420. DESCRIPTION: Painting and architecture are models of thought with a number of common preoccupations, one of which is representation. This paper uses Lacan’s seminar ‘What is a Picture’ as its starting point in order to discuss architecture as a discourse of the visual and particularly consider the wall surface as a place for picture making. In both architecture and painting surface and space are thought in relation to each other. Ellsworth Kelly has explored the surface through noteworthy assemblages of repetition (Cité) as well as singularity (Yellow Curve). Herzog & de Meuron, referring to their two first Ricola buildings, talk about the structure of the façade as an image and the surface becoming spatial. It is the restrained relationship between singularity and repetition that makes the impact of these surfaces so commanding. In different ways Kelly and Herzog & de Meuron have explored repetition as a generative and, partly, anti-compositional method of making. But it is intriguing that while Herzog & de Meuron have insisted in their use of repetition, Kelly gradually distanced his work from repetition in favour of flatness and singularity. Kelly used repetition as a mode of development rather than conclusion. His more recent monochromes seem to point to simultaneity, rather than repetition, a far more interesting concept for architecture. AIMS: • To critique the excessive use/ease to index, copy, reproduce, multiply, particularly facilitated by the digital. • To consider the value of singularity against repetition: an antidote to the systematization of materials and processes in new modes of architectural production. METHODS: Critical analysis of texts, artworks and buildings; literature review and fieldtrips. DISSEMINATION: • Permanent collection in Ellsworth Kelly’s Archive after the artist’s personal request. • The theme of repetition was explored in my work for 'Room Tone, 18 sounds in 6 models', a collaborative project between six architects and a sound artist, conceived and curated by Brandon LaBelle. Exhibited in: a) Tuned City: Between Sound and Space Speculation, International Sound Festival, Berlin, 2008; b) Cut and Splice, BBC/Sonic Arts Network, London, 2009; c) Room Tone, General Public, Berlin, 2011.
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