© 2016




Writing on White Air Anatomy, Julia McInerney, FELT Space, February 2013

Linda Marie Walker


On a Brian Eno CD titled The Drop (1997) there’s a track called ‘Iced World, it’s 32 minutes long. I don’t know whether ‘iced’ means cold, frozen, world or glazed, sweet, world. ‘Iced World’ is like a platform upon which things appear and disappear, and it’s slow and quick at the same time. It could go on forever; it’s beautiful and calm and delicate, but not without discord and gaps. It’s barely there; nevertheless it’s firm, grounded by insistence; and in being taut it becomes a space, and a continuous time. Julia McInerney’s White Air Anatomy, recently at Felt Space, is beautiful too, like something come upon, from another atmosphere, another dimension where architectures are built with a geometry based on slight or vague movements and desires. It is an artwork replete with stilled-lives, almost-stilled-lives, finished-lives, and yet-unborn lives. Every component is complete, connected as if unconnected. Completely, each thing and composition is in its considered ‘situation’, being what it must be in its own territory, in its presence and occupation with others who are also being what they must be; yet, everything is out of place, departed, started over, taken from its home and given a chance, or taking the chance, to be otherwise (or otherunwise).

Sparely, the state of statelessness had come (landed, lowered) to show itself, quietly fanned by an off-shore breeze (that rippled the thin plastic holding the dust, which in turns holds it, and doesn’t even unsettle the remnant cobweb/insect parts on the metal beam), poised to carry out its intent; an intent that although appearing precise (as a mechanism, or a vast and organized interior), is infinitely imprecise in relation (impossibly so) to all the leftovers of everything, all the remains of living things, and making-things, and made-things – a fragment of dried leaf, seeds, crumpled fruit, parts of objects, bare lights, whiteness.

It’s not fair, this endeavour, as it can’t finish what it’s started, like a museum is unfair, and an art gallery, and a library, and each life of each living substance; it’s a proposition of fragility, of tenuousness, of temporariness, of passing – as if for a moment; a moment might manifest as this. An order of sights-to-behold at a given, and perhaps, sudden, unexpected, opening of thought, like a feeling, or intuition, when fragments of complex structures expose themselves all at once – hovering, with gathered precious shapes, (like the arranged pattern of seeds), cradles, and long pulleys, small reflective pools, a strung up skin, pedestals, piles of swept up debris, and all around the clear expanse of ‘waiting’.

This ‘waiting’ is an-architecture, a materiality of the visible and the invisible that one can ‘wait’ with – like a garden or mountain range or lake or city. It arises from inside the texture of memory, like ‘icing’, like a cold crystalline network – a geode-like innerness; the surface is its ‘crust-earth’, but it can be cracked open to reveal a network of patterns of constant growth and decay, a sparkling hole, an inward layering and dissolution of minerals forming in nooks and crannies. Sometimes the cavities in geode’s have been gas or steam bubbles frozen into the cooling magma. Chemicals flow and combine to form sediments as they pass by in water. The process of accumulation “acts over time, slowly allowing water to enter the geode along cracks and grain boundaries, gradually adding more growth and filling in more of the cavity.”[1] Maybe then, I am looking past the crust into an Amethyst (which can take millennia to form and gain colour).

Then again, maybe I am looking at the sky, looking up not down, passed the clouds, those huge southern ones that roll across and seem like the bottom of massive ships. Up there, through them, there’s an ‘iced world’. Kengo Kuma, the Japanese architect, has a motto: “Start with the small”. He says, for him, architecture is anything “between the body and nature”. And, to translate that further, and taking the body as ‘nature’, architecture is anything ‘inbetween’, anything that’s on its way, going one direction or the other (from birth or to death) – the cobwebs floating, the seeds collected, the fruit dried, the dust, the light, the glass (moving minutely as it does), ash, and the very specific armature – fluorescent tubes and fittings, paint, Perspex, mirror, aluminium, copper, rubber. An-architectural anatomy, on air, thinly volumetric, pockets, lines, folds, reflections, and some quivering, one thing upon another in dimensions of care (like shelves and nerves) – a tension, a gauge; the eyes though trace the text on the walls at its own height; it would do-them-good to get down on the floor and take in the view across the plain (as this plain is like Eno’s plane that slides through the ears); Eno says he makes music for “a place somewhere between architecture and gardening”.[2]

This ‘anatomy’ is endangered as a condition of its existence; it can be trampled on in a heartbeat. It can be unseen, unloved. Its ecology is not guaranteed, and yet it can come again, be re-arranged, added-to, subtracted-from; it can be different (various) by degrees; it will never ever be what it was this time (Eno’s iPad app. ‘Scape’ is a generating infinite tool/system for making music, abstract and formal, minimal and baroque).

Junya Ishagami has designed a building – the Kanagawa Institute of Technology – that is a white platform surrounded by glass walls and full of scattered white pole/columns of various widths amongst which are arranged tables, chairs, and plants (a work environment). It too invites the eyes to look at its ‘inside’ at floor level, across the platform. Ishagami likens his process of making to “star-gazing”, an act of identifying heavenly bodies in a sky of seemingly random stars.[3] His ‘Architecture As Air’ was an almost invisible installation at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2010; it collapsed hours after being installed; it was made of extremely thin carbon fibre rods and spider web thin filaments (it was re-installed with changes).[4] He has also worked with the flatness of tables (3mm thick, paper thin, that vibrate when touched and the isolation of components, and how their isolation is necessary to both their survival and their component-value in a community of other components.[5]

White Air Anatomy has ‘distance’ inside it as blood; blood/distance is the ‘between’ fluid that runs warmly around and across bodies (and here bodies are the elements exhibited – from the transparent letters on the walls to the single bits of dust), carrying messages, warnings, greetings –‘ between’ Reykjavik and Adelaide, cold and hot, inside and outside, silence (cobweb) and noise (marble), the imagination and the imaginary, heart and mind.

This meandering (writing), a distancing too, from the concerns of the work itself, of the artist herself, is a sort of mist that emerges (or blows in from the ocean) in one’s memory afterwards, on leaving, as that world is too tender to grasp (to oneself) as ‘offered’ – and offered as a static quantity (although that quantity might be growing). All one can do, in a small animal way, is travel with it (with the image of it), while it stays, like Eno’s ‘Iced World’, just as it is, composed, stretched, and undemanding; this travel, while it lasts, feels like the gossamer, winged, nebulous, sadness that leaving sometimes stirs up in the nervous system, as arriving is ahead, as is starting all over again (somewhere yet invisible).



[1] George E. Harlow, ‘on the scientific explanation for the mystical geodes’, in Wilder Quarterly, Fall 2012, p.47

[2]http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2012/nov/11/brian-eno-ha-joon-chang, accessed 27.02.13

[2]http://www.spoon-tamago.com/contemporary-japanese-architects/, accessed 26.02.13

[4]http://www.designboom.com/architecture/junya-ishagami-wins-golden-lion-for-best-project-at-the-venice-biennale/, accessed 26.02.13; see video at http://thesnapassembly.com/art/video-junya-ishagami-architecture-as-air/, accessed 26.02.13

[5] “Ishigami regards the frequency of this vibration, the almost imperceptible wave movement of the table top, as the visual transition from solid to liquid. The tabletop is transformed into an area of water bearing countless small objects which swim on it like island-shaped landscapes. The arrangement of these landscapes is by no means random because a precise plan determines the position of the objects on a grid and places them in relation to one another.” http://www.architonic.com/ntsht/picnic-plants-architecture-the-fascinating-world-of-junya-ishagami/7000521, accessed 26.02.13