site castings: entwinements from palazzo fortuny

fortuny-news-01 fortuny-news-02

Architecture is in the world of the visible. This means that the bodies of architecture and the human body are one in front of the other and between the two there is ‘not a frontier’ but a contact surface.” (Merleau-Ponty 1968, 271).

Maurice Merleau-Ponty suggests a space of reciprocity ‘formed’ by bodily correspondences. In this sense a “contact surface” is liminal[i]*, it has thickness, a liminal distance, a space formed by reciprocity. The “contact surface” is the malleable space cast from the tension of mutual presence and can be applied to artistic production. The revealing and unfolding of this “cast-space” is where our work begins.


Beginning in November 2017 studio Paul O. Robinson will begin working within the spaces of Venice’s Museo Fortuny. The palazzo within which the museum is housed will serve as the spatial, artifactual, and narrative inspiration for the creation of an interactive installation comprised of visual/three dimensional art, musical composition, and literary narrative. The installation can perhaps be best compared to a plaster cast that has been extracted from the “mold” of its original source, transformed and then repositioned as its own unique experiential environment. In opposition to the conventional template wherein a museum functions as embalmed space engaging the visitor in a one-way conversation, “Site Castings” instead views the museum itself (its objects, stories, and spaces) as “muse:” an active participant in the production of this entwined interdisciplinary work which will allow visitors to experience the palazzo/museum in new and unanticipated ways and, within a new contextual environment.

Fluctuating between artistic and architectonic modalities, “Site Castings” will define a multifarious spatial environment created from interactions between historical (artifactual) and contemporaneous narratives at Museo Fortuny that re-present themselves as a synthetic consequence: a dialectical recasting of traces of habitation and the intersection of contemporary art. The work, as experience, is a source for departures and re-readings that inform space making by “enfolding” various design processes to create narratively informed spatial constructions.

The work can be considered a spatial, textual and musical “casting” of the traces of habitation whose form is emergent from the entwinements of the three mediums of expression and whose source materials are the spaces and artifacts within the palazzo. Not only will the material manifestation be a two and three-dimensional installation, it will also include performative and narrative elements that will define the creation of a book and recordings that in themselves are a kind of space that collectively embodies our work.

The Fortuny-based installation creates an explorative discourse involving associative processes of space making informed by the correspondences. The concept of enfolding processes links space making to narrative and formal structures. In this sense the work is a critique of mere formalism, as it contends that form is the result of intelligent interactive technical processes that do not exclude art and its narrative sources as processual constituents.

The installation will be comprised of full-scale radiographs printed on glass using wet plate collodion process, process paintings and three-dimensional castings with supportive armatures that will serve to recast the spaces of palazzo Fortuny. The installation can be experienced as individual pieces or as an interconnected spatial environment.

Site Castings” begins with stories about perception: spatial perceptions offered as a form of space defined via the continuance of time and its presence within the artifactual traces of habitation. Through the embodiment of narrative structure emerges the artifice of poetry, and hence a means to shape experience through the construction of filters that link the body to the external world.


[i] In this sense I use two intertwined definitions of the word: Liminal as threshold and liminal as the least amount of space required to hold two contact surfaces.