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Inhabiting Malevich explorations in depth

Beau Johnson


“Architecture without acknowledging history is impossible. The project is not about inventions in order to bring something new into existence, but about formulating intentions to reassemble things already known in another way.� - Kersten Geers

the basic Suprematist element: the square Kazimir Malevich, 1913


continued discourse ... (the conversation proposed through this course; new ways of looking/exhibiting) The Russian and European avant-guard of the early 20th century proposed new ways of seeing and expressing the realities of our world. That dialog continued through the mid/late century with the Abstract Expressionist and into the contemporary. Through this period, the reality of inhabitation became intrinsic to the work, its spatial, optical and sensual qualities. But what does it mean to inhabit?

‘continued discourse’ movie still Beau Johnson, September 2012


“The square is not a subconscious form. It is the creation of intuitive reason. The face of the new art. The square is a living, regal infant. The first step of pure creation in art. The square = feeling. The white field = the void beyond this feeling.” - Kazimir Malevich

‘Inhabiting Malevich’ mock-up Beau Johnson, November 2012


“Malevich’s black square = spirituality My black square = materiality” - Richard Serra My black square is about inhabitation.

‘+/- moving space’ movie still Beau Johnson, August 2012


“What is it about art that makes in an overall contribution to the dialog of our being in the world? The subject of art is a non-thing. We’re talking about feelings, and these feelings have values for us, that is they enhance, they enrich, they make our lives more interesting. Art really is a continual investigation of our potential as human beings to incorporate those values into our lives. The artist simply shows you the world in ways you have not seen it before and brings you to look at it again.” - Robert Irwin

‘continued discourse’ movie still Beau Johnson, September 2012


By engaging the praxis between the second and third dimension, the work seeks an embodied depth. Unifying tension.

‘the serial frame(s)’ ink on paper Beau Johnson, November 2012


“Beyond the boundaries of the Albertian window, Baroque paintings open up vision with hazy edges, soft focus and multiple perspectives, presenting a distinct, tactile invitation and enticing the body to travel through the illusory space.” - Alberto Perez-Gomez

‘(re)orienting the frame’ ink on paper Beau Johnson, October 2012


“I would say what Malevich was working towards in those early drawings (1913) was some conception about how one moves from the center. He was attempting to synthesize the esoteric and the exoteric.” - Mel Bochner

‘the serial frame’ screenprint, paper, board Beau Johnson, October 2012


“The painter’s inconspicuous presence at the center of the scene makes us aware that what we see is first and foremost a representation of his idea. The heart of every design is formed by the designer’s position in relation to it. The way is which he turns the subject into a material composition is his work.” (...in reference to Jan van Eyck, ‘Portrait of Giovanni Arnolfini and his wife’ 1434 ..) - Michiel Riedijk

‘the artists frame’ movie still Beau Johnson, October 2012


“Peripheral vision integrates us with space, while focused vision pushes us out of the space, making us mere spectators. Architecture our being in our sense of mediates and

articulates the experience of the world, and strengthens reality and self: it relates, projects meanings.” - Alberto Perez-Gomez

‘peripheral frame(s)’ paper Beau Johnson, November 2012


The reflection then locates us (the viewer) directly within the dialog and experience. The inhabitation of the square, metaphysically. As well as the inverse visually, of the eye within the square surrounded by black (void/space).

‘continued discourse’ movie still Beau Johnson, September 2012


“In Malevich, if you can evade the cultural screens that separate you from the painting, and if you can suspend the need to express everything in words, or to find a linguistic correlative, you might find yourself directly in touch with the experience that he sometimes expresses as ‘the desert’. In Western European thought we tear things apart as if to find the inside, but of course, when you reach the inside all you find is the outside.” - Mel Bochner

‘A probe, the distance between’ thesis board Beau Johnson, October 2012


“The phenomena of ineffable space refers to the maximum intensity and the quality of execution and proportion - an experience becomes radiant. Dimensions alone do not create this space; rather space is a quality bound up in perception.” - Steven Holl

‘continued discourse’ movie still Beau Johnson, September 2012


“Distance made it possible for ‘space’ itself to become an object of artistic representation. This distance, a primary depth rather than perspective, made it possible to articulate the discourse of geometry and optics... while maintaining the primacy of reality that is given to human perception in its tactile and synthetic fullness.” - Alberto Perez-Gomez

‘continued discourse’ movie still Beau Johnson, September 2012


“Perception and cognition balance the volumetrics of architectural space. Space is the essential medium of architecture. Space is simultaneously many things - the voids in architecture, the space around architecture, the vast space of landscape and city-scapes, intergalactic spaces of the universe. Space is something both intrinsic and relational.” - Steven Holl

‘+/- moving space’ movie stills Beau Johnson, August 2012


“Architectural space can only be defined as the collision of geometric and physiological space” - Raimund Abraham

‘continued discourse’ movie still Beau Johnson, September 2012


“the architect could also unveil a spatial dimension, not behind or above, but on the surface of things.” - Alberto Perez-Gomez

‘the artists frame’ movie stills Beau Johnson, October 2012


“Projection evokes temporality and boundaries. Defining the space between light and darkness, between beginning and beyond, it illuminates the space of culture, of our individual and collective existence” - Alberto Perez-Gomez

‘the artists frame’ movie still Beau Johnson, October 2012


“In every case one must achieve a simultaneous solution of opposites.” - Alvar Aalto A constant search for ‘fusion’ between the two, between opposing forces. Line - Point. Depth and Flatness. Internal - External. Weight - Weightlessness.

‘shifting frame’ digital, for screenprint Beau Johnson, December 2012


“Not being sure which way is up (...) loosens the boundary on certainty. Gravity adds to the lever effect, hopefully making the viewer uncertain about his or her position in space and gravitational value. Mass, weight and light are as important as scale for me.” - Antony Gormley

‘Inhabiting Malevich’ sketches Beau Johnson, November 2012


(...of the ‘black square’ Malevich arranged over his death bed) “Only the rational side of the mind tries to separate beginnings and ends. It’s all the same. It’s all one thing. He started and ended with the black square. He was testing his hypothesis. If his whole life as an artist was an intellectual adventure why did he have to arrive at a conclusion that was different from his premise?” - Mel Bochner

‘Inhabiting Malevich’ Beau Johnson, December 2012


Bibliography Abraham, Raimund. Negation and Reconciliation, Perspecta, No 19, Yale Architectural Journal. pp 6-7. Print. Caicco, Gregory. Architecture, Ethics, and the Personhood of Place. Hanover: University of New England, 2007. Print. Holl, Steven. Parallax. Basel: Birkhäuser-Publishers for Architecture, 2000. Print. Malevich, Kazimir Severinovich. The Non-objective World. Chicago: P. Theobald, 1959. Print. Malevich, Kazimir Severinovich, Alison McDonald, Ealan Wingate, YveAlain Bois, Magdalena Dabrowski, Aleksandra Semenovna. Shatskikh, and Donald Judd. Malevich and the American Legacy. New York: Gagosian Gallery, 2011. Print. Pallasmaa, Juhani. The Eyes of the Skin: Architecture and the Senses. Chichester: Wiley-Academy, 2005. Print. Pérez, Gómez Alberto, and Louise Pelletier. Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge. Cambridge, MA: MIT, 1997. Print. Riedijk, Michiel, and Enrique Walker. Architecture as a Craft: Architecture, Drawing, Model and Position. Amsterdam: SUN Architecture, 2010. Print. Robert Irwin: The Beauty of Questions. Dir. Leonard Feinstein. Leonard Feinstein, 1997. DVD. Vidler, Anthony, Susan Stewart, and W. J. T. Mitchell. Antony Gormley: Blind Light. Southbank Centre, UK: Hayward, 2007. Print.



Inhabiting Malevich