steely gaze

Relatum-Stage (2018) is an outdoor commission at the Serpentine Gallery, London. It is the latest work in South Korean born artist Lee Ufan’s Relatum series, begun in the 1960s. Each work is a composition using the same two materials, steel and stone. Here two rocks, one large one small, are placed either side of an angled steel plate. The interest lies in the viewer’s interaction with the mirror-polished stainless steel, and its reflections. The viewer either sees herself centre stage against the backdrop of trees, or, as if from the wings, watches the dynamic play of people moving through the park. Who is watching who?

Relatum-Stage is at the Serpentine until 27 Jan 2019

peritropes in the peleponnese

97FC7A7A-7FA6-410F-9C08-AEFF64813C9ACFCC3D20-CC45-4528-B878-17A291D292C3The suspended cones of Voula Gounela’s installation in an upper room of the fortified hill fort, rotate gently in the slight breeze. It’s 33 degrees, a hot June day in the ‘old town’ of Kardamyli in the Mani, South Peleponnese, and the sound of cicadas surges over the battlements as we explore the clustered masonry buildings of this recently restored heritage site. Gounela’s title “peritropes” means ‘turning around’ or ‘revolution’ in Ancient Greek. In Hellenistic Greek it meant turning an opponent’s arguments against himself or herself. The cones are of three materials, aluminium, thick paper and glazed ceramic. The thick paper appears to be imprinted from the inscribed outer surface of the aluminium. The curved aluminium surface seems to attract and reflect the little light in the room. You feel the weight of the dark glazed clay cones. One of these has made contact with the floor, like the seabed, as the others, fish-like, turn and shimmer in the gloom.

The renovation and fitout of these buildings cost £1.5 million Euros, mostly EU funded. The restoration has mostly been done with care, though use of cement mortar rather than lime in places is surprising. A permanent exhibition tells the story of the settlement’s history, and illustrates other structures such as small stepped quarries, olive presses and water cisterns that were an integral part of surviving in this challenging landscape.

not gneiss (the ringing stone, tiree)

A large rock transported by a glacier and set down by the melting ice is known as an erratic (from the Latin “errare” meaning to wander). On the north coast of Tiree is an erratic, made of granite, an alien amongst an indigeneous geology of gneiss.

IMG_1676The ringing stone has an ancient history. The cupmarks pitting its surface mark the spots where humans have hit the large stone with a smaller stone striker. With your ear against the stone as it is struck you can hear an extraordinarily resonant spatial sound, with a metallic ring.

The effect is due to the density of the rock and absence of flaws or fissures. Some think that the void or cleft underneath the stone also contributes to the sound produced.

It is well worth walking off the track to experience it first hand.

 

harpa concert hall, reykjavik (2011)

The Harpa Concert Hall, located in the harbour area of Reykjavik, was designed by Henning Larsen Architects and Batteriid Architects. The Danish-Icelandic artist, Olafur Eliasson, collaborated on the design of the facades taking inspiration from the Icelandic landscape and the crystalline structure of basalt columns, which give a strong sense of identity and place to the building. It is a kind of people’s palace for the Icelandic capital – a cultural centre but also a public space and place to meet, protected from the elements. The building contains concert and performance spaces, and international standard conference facilities – Reykjavik is ideally located between Europe and the US. HarpaPlan

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the main atrium facing the Nordurljos and Eldborg concert halls
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looking through the crystalline facade at sunset

The Icelandic landscape: inspiration for the building design from ice, snow, rock and water, from the colours and the effects of natural light.

Interesting features of the acoustic design of the concert hall interiors include the perimeter screens of twisted timber slats, and adjustable felt blinds behind, creating the tools for varying the acoustic to suit different types of musical and speech-based performance.

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The Nordurljos concert hall
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Detail of the twisted timber slatted acoustic screen