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The Elaborated Window

Andrew Clancy (ed.) and Colm Moore (ed.)

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In 1977, Robert Irwin wrote the following about himself: "I began as a painter in the middle of nowhere with few questions...  My first real question concerned the arbitrariness of my paintings...  I used my paintings as a step by step process, each new series of works acting in direct response to those questions raised by the previous series.  I first questioned the mark as meaning and then even as focus; I then questioned the frame as containment, the edge as the beginning and end of what I see...  consider the possibility that nothing ever really transcends its immediate environment...  I tried to respond directly to the quality of each situation I was in, not to change it wholesale into a new or ideal environment, but to attend directly to the nature of how it already was."

The quote is taken from a wonderful book by Lawrence Weschler, a biography of sorts, which describes this artit's evolution from an abstract expressionist painter to a minimalist sculptor to architect to gardener.  It is a description full of moments that illustrate the art of studio practice but more importantly its narrative develops by a process of careful observation.  He describes an artist that is capable of looking with an innocence at the world that surrounds him and critically looking with a precise innocence at his own work.  It is a profound text in its description of the radical power of the art of simply looking.

We begin our Masters' programme at Queens University Belfast with this act of simply looking, at ordinary things, elemental things.  Things we assume, as architects, we might already know.  Each year our vertical studio examines in depth a fundamental element of architecture, and uses this as a means to provoke the spatial sensibility of each studet's preliminary project.  The work illustrated in this book comprises an investigation of precedents that commence our study.  The primary vehicle for this investigation is the large scale physical model which throughits painstakingattention to detail allows us a greater understanding of how the character of the space is tuned.  The exhibition of these models in the school is agreat day where our eyes wander these rooms assesing their effect as experience.  In this way we make friends in history so that each individual's project can become a conversation between established  and emerging ideas.  This is the second of a series of publications recording the work of this integrated studio.  last year we examined circulation as sapce in "Stair Rooms",  this year's theme is "The Elaborated Window"

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