MUSEUM OF THE CAPTIVE GRID (mcg)
New York City, New York, USA
A Collaboration with Richard Liu
The condition of the museum in the 21st century is one of a duplicitous state of denial and security. Where once stood the apex of confrontation between art and mankind, now resides a flaccid plight of innocence. Currently, museums have become patients without subjective symptoms of their inner paradox; a strenuous disorientation consciously produced to be mistaken for an Architectural Sublime. Insinuated by an obsessively consumptive society, with acute amnesia as the causation of vice, contemporary galleries have been fraught between the dichotomy of pleasantness and challenge; where the latter has now been exiled. This neo-nature of the increasing dominance of comfort precludes all notions for the unexpected, leaving behind enduring victims of the banal.
The Museum of the Captive Grid aims to recapture the spirit of provocation within a vapid consumerist art-world. By generating an inversion of the white box mentality, this project allows for the opportunity to engage the city with transparent access to the collections at large. The ground floor galleries operate as a continuous urban surface that dissolves the threshold of the museum as temple. Here, the ground plane serves as the only datum in which art manifests itself to the civic realm, establishing immunity towards the opaque. With the declaration of the peripheral edge of the museum as a connective territory between the gallery and the metropolis, this building aspires to create a specific inner life that is sublimated within the wall-less aisles for art.
As a proposal, this project becomes a terrain of competing zones between program and art. Such an unlikely situation provides a field of unanticipated capacities where the urban experience is encapsulated within a singular building. Therefore, the strategy of the diagram behaves as an instrument that may continually refine itself to the programmatic requirements of the core blocks, adjusting its variable proportions, which are subsumed by the encompassing aisles of art. Rising above the 3-meter height of the implied gallery spaces, the areas for administration and trade reach towards the prism of the sky as it can only stretch vertically from the continence of the horizontal range below. Accordingly, these programmatic volumes emerge from the galleries and become diverse urban silhouettes within the prism of the museum where the clear and present distinction between program and art are echoed in the figuration of the plan. This design is not based on the cultural logic of advanced capitalism, in which museums are planned like malls, yet instead it subverts that very notion by its license of spatial maximization.
The Museum of the Captive Grid does not claim to simulate a measure for exploration amongst its galleries from a tangential distance in what has become an archetypal myth of interactivity qua inter-passivity. Alternatively, this museum without walls – equally the museum with a myriad of columns – is about probing art from all its intended and un-intended vantages up close, one by one, within a rarefied form of density. The provenance of a 3-meter grid pervades the entire site as would a tract of land yielding fortuitous occasions of engagement; some highly articulated and some decidedly unforeseen. Thus, it is not about scanning the panorama of galleries but rather immersing oneself within them through the parallel juxtapositions of a linear interior landscape. This abstraction constructs a primordial yet improbable museum type unhinged from self-importance via the foil of a prismatic residue of the white box
The East Wind
A literary forgery based on “Fedora” from Italo Calvino’s Invisible Cities
"The East wind cometh. While it did not carry with it anything fertile, against the current arrived a moored ship from the West. How the boat moved contrary to the tempest is a matter of pure human determination. (After the auto-propulsive raft of the Constructivists climactically collided with the raft of Medusa in that fateful river of '76, the pool somehow made it to Cockaigne. There, however, the mythical structure and its sentinels could not survive the rusting ego and battered repute of struggle. Yet, the guards fell short of their intended destination, the mother city of Whitestone. Many decided to stay behind; fatigued, complacent, and intoxicated with their newfound Babylon. Only two decided to continue onwards, and was given a phantom prismatic vessel as a farewell gift from their comrades; the only thing worthwhile they attained while at the Land of Nether. It did not take long for these two believers to convert this offering into a precariously balanced ship.) Two oarsmen rowed on against the East wind until one fiery night, the ship landed, or crashed rather, into the port metropolis of Stadi.
In the center of Stadi, that floating green metropolis, stood a radiant edifice with ever more crystalline vaults defining every pathway. Peering into each section, the two men saw a microcosm, a prototypical maquette of a new world. All the aisles in totality sold dreams discounted, broken but unscathed, pre-ordained by an exquisite pseudo-scientific exactitude. These were the forms the world could have taken if, for one reason or another, it had not become what we witness today. In every age, there were people, looking at their milieu as it were, who imagined a way of making it ideal by analyzing their respective critical present. However, while each delineator constructed his or her miniature model, the corporeal world changed under their beings. When the delineators came out of their self-hypnosis of a single-mindedly productive trance, the world was no longer the same as before to their amusement and disappointment. What had been until yesterday a possible future became only an unintelligible soliloquy. A few may even go as far as to insinuate some prototypes as cryogenically suspended in cenotaphs in distant lands for the eternal introspection of mankind. It takes courage to confront these dreams in what amounts to an extensive and deeply emotional cabinet of curiosities as if gazing straight into the ghastly pupils of Medusa, into her inner hollowness reflecting into our own.
This structure with the maquettes is now Stadi’s museum: inhabitants and wanderers visit it, choose the world that corresponds to their desires, contemplates it, imagining their own reflection in what could have been: being a part of the vastly ineffable time-space continuum; being active participants in symposia when it mattered; medusa pond that would have collected a myriad of colors of the world (if it had not been vacated), the joys of sharing a common language in the soaring mega-structure (which never found a ground from which to rise). Then, the real task became to imagine anew what the world could be, again.
Yet, unbeknownst to them, the wall-less museum is itself one large transparent vessel, containing within it a universe that became, finally. Here, the microcosms, concepts of ideas, and models of hopeful worlds are all liquidated on a sweeping exposé to be reassessed by the denizens of this metropolis. After this revelation, and before some spectacular chain of events can cause them great harm of amnesia, the two remaining swimmers hurried back to their moored ship, their only reality in the tattered empire of cartography, to plan their next sojourn. In the great atlas of our world, O Great Men, there must be room both for the extra-large land, large Stadi, as well as the small Stadis and even smaller topias in glass vaults. 'Not because they are all equally real, but because they are all only assumptions. The one contains what is accepted as necessary when it is not yet so; the others, what is imagined as possible and, a moment later, is possible no longer.' The East Wind cometh, and the Angel has no choice but to turn his face to the future - away from the piling wreckage - not to leave it in despair, but after having learned from it and re-departing with newfound hope and adventurous optimism."