Bifurcation

 

 

 

Modernism insisted that form and function were symbiotically intertwined, neither existing without the other. Art, therefore, existed as a necessary accouterment for the modernist skyscraper. The examples of this phenomenon are many: Alexander Calder’s Flamingo (1974) outside Mies van der Rohe’s Federal Plaza and Picasso’s untitled sculpture (1967) at Daley Plaza, both in Chicago, and of course Calder’s Crossed Blades (1974) at our own Australia Square. These sculptures, constructed of architectural materials and at an exaggerated scale, served as monumental decoration, placed deliberately in our line of sight to break up the repetition and severity of the architecture behind.

However, the recent preoccupation with grand architecture biennales, signature architectural commissions, and the reemergence of the architecture pavilion, suggests an evolution of this tacit agreement. Did architecture and art swap sides? Has architecture evolved into the ultimate public art commission?

The proposed architectural installation Bifurcation exists simultaneously as a reference to the epic public art commissions of the past and as an acknowledgement of architecture’s evolving role as public art. It addresses the austere radial plan of Harry Seidler’s Australia Square by bifurcating the lobby with two symmetrical towers constructed of standard scaffolding. The new towers suggest a transitory state through a conflation of material heft and formal transparency. The scaffolding appears to puncture the glass curtain wall extending the lobby to the courtyard plinth beyond. As the sun sets on the opening night, the glass will mirror the towers to create visual indeterminacy, allowing for a literal reflection on the state of architecture and public art.

 

* A proposed installation for Australia Square, Sydney Australia, 2015