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BARTON Charles Burgess & Michelle Zelek

We approached this challenge with a desire to let the fabric speak for itself; to let the textile hang in its loose condition. However, we knew that I doing this we would need to look closer at the meaning of enclosed space. What are the conditions that made a room or a space happen? This question informed how our research progressed. We started by looking at theatrical spaces, such as Chicago’s Auditorium Theatre where Adler and Sullivan created a multi-layered proscenium. This strong repetition of layering creates an understandable, yet dramatic perspective which creates non-physical vignettes of space in and overall large space. Our next research took us further into the idea of a theater. By this time, we had decided that we wanted to locate our installation on the University of Texas Austin’s South Mall, which consists of a large, slightly downhill plane of lawn; a perfect alignment with the state capitol and another perfect alignment with U of T Bell Tower. This existing dramatic layout would be furthered by some sort of theatrical venue and installation. With this information, we went about finding a use for this space. Austin has a strong music history of being involved with Blues music. What we decided on was to create a concert and theater venue that could be used during the warm seasons, especially during the summer. This would highlight the connection between Austin and the University of Texas and would create an additional venue that would bring in people from all around the area to listen to great music and enjoy their surroundings. Our final research delved into the idea of what fabric expresses in the abstract. Textile movement expresses a fluid or liquid quality that could be expressed through rain or a waterfall. The way the wind moves fabric has a similar effect that wind has on falling sheets of water. The liquid quality was further explored and we decided to touch on the heaviness and almost liquid metallic malleability of water. We wanted to find a material that would express the weight, especially when submitted to a direct outdoor wind.



Blues music from which we took the note form to create a potential cutout profile for each panel

One of the lines we used for the cutout profile after it had been distorted

We propose an installation that has a dual purpose: as an art piece and as a music and theater venue. It will be of a large scale, but will be tied into the surround area through color and shape. The surrounding landscape will serve as alternate dividing pillars that will help to further differentiate the space. The installation will appear to form a mass from one angle, but will all but disappear at another angle. The material will be metallic and will express the forms and weight of water. It will be further shaped to reflect the musicality of Blues. The piece will effectively create a space similar to a theater that can literally be represented during performances set in the area, or metaphorically for the everyday “theater� of life that occurs on a college campus.




The model work, shown at left, was created to understand what reflections would occur with a copper surface and how lighting would affect said curtain. We found that the product actually began to resemble, in abstract, the liquid quality that we had first sought after. The chosen material for the panels would be made of from a coil curtain system, that specifically of Cascade Coil Drapery of Tualatin, Oregon. We found that their product is non corrosive as well as being available in a outdoor protective finish. The product is being adopted more and more by design professions for use in interiors, exterior cladding, safety screens and as a fire proof alternative to regular fabric draperies. The coil is usually presented in long panels as to accentuate both length and height of spaces. What is great about this coil drapery is that it is perfortated and when layered behind itself, it builds upon the coloring, but only gradually. Below are a couple images of how the coil looks up close and also how it looks in a combined effect.


Orange represents location of panels and stage. Each panel would extend into the landscaping as allowed.


Our proposal is to create a visually appealing art installation of stainless steel coil curtain finished in a satin copper coating, and placed in a layered plan that transverses the South Mall lawn. Each panel will have its bottom cut and shaped in a different way, each relating to both the inspiration of blues music and the direct visual axis of the state capitol building. The use of the space can differentiate between a normal lawn and a concert venue/theater space. Each panel will be tied into the masonry of the surrounding buildings by large masonry hooks. From each hook will come a half inch stainless steel cable which will be able to support the weight of the stainless steel coil curtain, which will have a good deal of weight. The curtain itself will be attached to the cable with steel loops which will allow for movement of the material along the cable during mild to heavy winds. Due to the weight and length of each panel, there may need to be additional stays on the ground to reduce horizontal and vertical movement. During concerts, lighting would be installed that would create for a heightened theatrical experience. Each panel would reflect the light due to the metallic nature. The lighting would be LED based, which allows for differentiation in hue and value of color, as well as being more energy conscious.



Charles Burgess & Michelle Zelek Harrington College of Design Chicago, IL Contact Information email: phone: 319-533-8499 address: 14 West Elm St. Apt. 806 Chicago, IL 60610



Submission to Curtains Competition in Austin, Texas

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