Think of a gallery not as a place for the exhibition of art (art-products, act-activity, art-processes, etc.) but as a condition for the exhibition of art. In other words: there doesn’t have to be a floor connected to walls which in turn are connected to a ceiling, making a box that the art has to fit into. But there might always be the possibility of a wall (in case, for example, a wall, or a section of a wall, was needed to hang a painting)—there might always be the possibility of a floor (in case, for example, a floor, or a section of a floor, was needed for a sculpture to stand on, or for a viewer to walk over). Think of a gallery, then, as a void, inside of which is the possibility/equipment/apparatus for showing art.
But this gallery will be an actual space, in a built building, in a real city; so the void has to be made palpable, tangible—it’s a void with boundaries, a void that’s separated from other spaces around it . This gallery, after all, will be inserted into a conventional New York building, into a rectilinear space on the ground floor that fronts the street. Make the void, then, out of the front wall. Turn the front wall into something like fabric, like rubber, like skin. The façade breathes in now, the façade sucks itself in; it melts into a bulge, a blob, an ellipsoid that spills into the rectangle, and fills the rectangle.
Toward the street end of the gallery, the blob separates, the blob opens; it becomes a funnel that lets the city in. From the sidewalk, a strip of Toward the street end of the gallery, the blob separates, the blob opens; it becomes a funnel that lets the city in. From the sidewalk, a strip of concrete turns off and slips into the building; the sidewalk rises like a ramp, like a gangplank, to join with the bottom of the blob. As you walk down the street, you might follow the sidewalk inside, through the funnel, into the gallery.
The funnel opens into the exhibition space; there’s no door—an air-curtain separates inside from outside, and heats and cools the inside. You enter a space without corners; you’re in a curve that sweeps and swoops around you, you’re in the inside of a shell. The shell is translucent fiberglass, or molded plastic; it’s lit from behind, from the leftover space between the blob and the rectangular edges of the room—the exhibition space is a void of light. It’s a concavity of light; there are no walls, no ceiling, no floor yet (pretend you’re in this gallery before an exhibition begins).
Assume that the rectangular space, into which this ellipsoid is inserted, has columns running down the length of it. The columns are the kernel of particular exhibitions; the columns function as storage for the gallery’s architecture. Stacks of panels—4 feet by 8 feet, say—are packed onto and supported on each side of each column. The panels fold out, pivot out, to make segments of walls and floor and ceiling. Panels are folded out only where needed—to hang something on, or from, or to stand something on, or to make a walkway between things. A panel might end in mid-air, unconnected to any other, like a screen; or wall might be connected to floor and ceiling to make a little room within the gallery; or the void might be filled with ceilings above and floors below and walls all around, like a conventional gallery, if only for the time being. This gallery is built and unbuilt and rebuilt from show to show.
All the while, the ellipsoid itself might be used as a display surface; the concave translucent shell might be a screen for rear projections, replacing the light from behind. The ellipsoid might be used, too, as support-structure; the fiberglass shell might be reinforced with steel, that attaches at points to the structure of the building.
As the ellipsoid retrofits the rectangular space, it cuts in-between columns; some columns are enclosed within the blob, within the exhibition space of the gallery, and some are left outside, toward the front of the room and at the rear. Two or three columns might be left out in the funnel, on the ramping sidewalk; panels might be unfolded out from the columns here, to extend the exhibition space out to the street—the gallery begins, the show begins, outside the gallery. And one or two columns might fall outside the shell in the rear of the rectangle; panels here might be unfolded to make a desk, or a conference table. It’s this left-over corner in the rear that houses the gallery’s office, behind the scenes of the exhibition space. The existent rectangular walls, behind the blob, might be used for bookshelves, and storage. Just as the blob, at the front of the gallery, opens to let the city and its people in, the blob parts at the rear: this is where the office might stretch into the gallery, or where the gallery might spread into the office—the gallery dealer’s space is open to the public, and vice versa, the gallery can always come out and play the crowd.
Warning: keep telling yourself: this is only a general idea, this is only a general idea . . . The idea has to be adjusted to an actual particular place; more likely, the idea will be affected by the actual place, and change, or die and be born again as a different idea—a transaction will occur between this idea and the particular place. And, in the meantime, before a place is actualized, the idea has to be detailed:
Now that the gallery has been opened onto the sidewalk, now that the street has been let loose into the gallery, the funnel between gallery and city has to be closed at night, or else it will be (ab)used like the rest of the open city. But we can’t hide the gallery, and pretend it isn’t there; we can’t pull down in front something like a garage door. The blob itself has to close the gallery: the blob has to bulge, or the blob has to unpeel in sheets, to make a closure. This extended blob, or these peels of the blob, will be the impure part of the void, the part that accepts graffiti.
The entry to the blob needs a reception desk. It can be in the funnel, on the ramping sidewalk, before the entry; panels can unhinge from a column to form a desk and a chair. But the receptionist would be out in the cold here. So, instead, the desk could be put around the corner, just inside the entry; there might be a convenient column here, from which a panel could be pulled down to make a desk, or a section of the blob itself—fluid as it should be—could be re-formed into a built-in desk-and-chair area.
The system for walls and floors and ceilings, as we have it so far, is too ‘clunky’; the blob is fluid, but the column-&-panels are have too much material, too many mechanics. The panels should act solid but look like air. The panels should ‘disappear’ when they aren’t used; and, when they need to be used, they should unfold like liquid.
Kenny Schachter wants his gallery to have seating; the gallery should be used like a living room. Since we’re imagining/designing a (simulation of a) void here, we don’t see a place for a living room. But then again, once we design a void, anybody can come in and fill it with his/her own reality. All the while, we’ve left plenty of opportunities for seating: a panel could be unfolded from a column to make a bench, for example, or the blob could bulge into a niche that makes a continuous ‘live-in’ seat. But maybe the seating here should be more flexible, more movable and rearrangeable: within this blob, say, there might be miniature blobs that function on their own time and in their own space—you sit inside a blob, you have a little blob for your very own, at least for the time being . . .