What makes a space a place:
One of my all time favorite books is The Poetics of Space (the classic look at how we experience intimate places) by Gaston Bachlard and quite a bit of my artistic practice at one time dealt with the boundaries of personal space and how to reclaim a very public space into a very intimate experience. Along his lines of reason and my experience of redesigning public spaces within the art building I give you the following look at what appears to just “happen” but really is a lot of sweat and thought. (If you are looking for a story about Thomas Edison and how he shook my hand come and ask me about it but it is a bit to long for this place)
When I was recently asked what has been one of my favorite experiences or memories in my short time here I answered with “when we got a couch in the art building”. I saw this as a major turning point it the attitude of the students of the art department. One student would approach another with the phrase “you are on my part of the couch” as if they owned it. Do you own it? I would hope you think so. There is something very important of not only taking ownership of your environment (this does include being responsible for it) but understanding the role of it defining your perspective. Speak to any designer and they will speak to the idea of designing an experience and in a way the spaces we design for you are also scripting a course for your ship to sail. Whether it is the common places that can be used as private (the couch, the balcony, classrooms and studios) or it is the galleries I hope that you digest the purpose for these walls, their shape, and their order.
I have a common disease that is a constant battle of spacial order. As Bachlard puts it “For every great dreamer of corners and holes, nothing is ever empty. A living creature fills an empty space, images inhabit, and all corners that are not inhabited are haunting.” I look at artist like Gregor Schneider and feel a little bit more on the side of normal. But growing up in a military family moving every 2 years of my life I still require quite a bit of change to feel comfortable. Due to this life I do believe that we deinstall a previous life in order to install ourselves into a space, and public spaces are no different. This is a constant in the world of academia. Spaces and the lives that inhabit them are in a constant state of change. Combine this with a refinement of design for the direction of a program and its spaces and you come to a place where nothing and everything is stable. It is much like the ocean.
You now have a few new changed spaces in the art department here at Georgetown since you were here last. To first time art students these will appear as normal and I hope you install yourself into the building and claim your own place to be your space. To those who own these places and you have been around before I hope you enjoy the work we have put into them.