Stephen Walker, “Gordon Matta-Clark’s Building Dissections.” In Architectures: Modernism and After, edited by Andrew Ballantyne, Blackwell Publishing, 2003, p. 137.

Stephen Walker, “Gordon Matta-Clark’s Building Dissections.”

In Architectures: Modernism and After, edited by Andrew Ballantyne, Blackwell Publishing, 2003, p. 137.

이 글에서 저자는 Bataille의 sacrifiace, Alteration notion을 architecture와 Clark 작업에 연결한다. 

The notion of altération side-stepped the contradiction of Luquet’s classifications,
but more importantly for Bataille, it inscribed both a base and a sacred dimension, a low and a high, within artistic production:

Without offering specific examples, Bataille claimed that the work of some contemporary artists demonstrated this aspect of altération, where baseness was revealed, and where “rotten” painting was the result. This art, “as art it unquestionably is, proceeds in this way through successive destructions. (121-122)

Manet’s approach had actually sacrificed painting, or at least sacrificed the established mores governing painterly production at that time; sacrificed them through the artist’s indifference toward them. Manet의 회화는 이전 가치들을 ‘희생’함으로써 가능한 회화이다. 

Manet’s work frustrated the expectations of his audience by shifting importance away from any “meaningful” content and investing it instead in the operative aspect of painting itself.20 These paintings exceeded the meaning that the bourgeoisie sought in them; instead of being useful on any terms they might acknowledge, Manet’s work, for
Bataille at least, was important because it overshot any such notion of use. (122)


Gordon Matta-Clark and “Operation”

The cuts that began the dissections themselves followed a progressively more complex geometry that is echoed in their titles, from early works such as Splitting (1974, figure 5.1),
to Conical Intersect (1975), to the last dissections that Matta-Clark produced before his untimely death, such as Office Baroque (1977, figure 5.2) and Circus-Caribbean Orange (1978, figure 5.3).

Splitting inscribed a straight, planar cut located with an apparently symmetrical logic. This strict geometrical rationale to the incision recurs in the later dissections, though rather than addressing a formal notion of architecture they began to map geometrical considerations onto broader architectural concerns such as movement and space. Conical Intersect, for example, influenced by Anthony McCall’s Expanded Cinema work Line Describing a Cone, used a geometry described by the path of a twodimensional “object” to generate a multi-dimensional piece that foregrounded an opening movement through cellular architectural space. The title of Office Baroque itself suggests an engagement with a period of architecture that articulated a more self-conscious desire to manipulate space, though the sweeping circular cuts that make the dissection were widely used by Matta-Clark in other pieces. Beyond this obvious link, Office Baroque dealt with other Baroque motifs such as fragmentation, excessive detail, and with the infolding of utopian space and mundane space. 바로크는 Trompe L’Oleil 가 originate한 시대이다. 이거랑 연결해 볼 수 있지 않을까.  (126)

With the building dissections, the manipulations of these architectural conventions exposed and altered this sequential development, promoting instead a synchronic event through which the institution of Architecture would be opened to challenge. This event may well have made the visitor feel awkward, yet this awkwardness announces the transgression of the architecture of Architecture. (128)

Matta-Clark’s building dissections operate in a parallel way to the altération that Bataille wanted to observe in Manet’s work.

The building dissections were not simply about cutting into buildings; their principal altération was not that undergone by the fabric itself, but more importantly they demanded that Architecture be deformed so as to reveal aspects of architectural practice that are hidden from the usual experience of architecture. The consideration that went into the cuts themselves has already been touched on and is not to be denied, as it again reminds us that if Matta-Clark could be said to have abandoned the principle of Architecture, he must once have had it at his disposition.

단순하게 파괴로 보지 말자는 입장. 건축을 파괴하려는 게 아니다. 건축에 disposition이 있기 때문에 가능한 그의 작업들이다. (130)

movement에 대한 부분 흥미롭다. 연결해 볼 수 있을 것 같은데 – space narrative랑. Dramitize architectural space

More important than the care of this actual removal were the demands this work made on the visitor; it could not be seen in a single view: “you have to walk.” In addition to defying “that category of a sort of snapshot scenic work,”33 this strategy began to abandon architectural principles, turning architectural convention back upon itself in an active and awkward alteration.

The experience of Splitting would change as the visitor moved around the dissected building, stepping over the split as the passage was made from room to room and from story to story. This movement through the building, horizontally and vertically, in plan and in section, would have been interrupted by the presence of the cut, the section, which would begin to call into question the tacit assumptions that architecture makes on our behalf, and to counter any claims that the architecture might make toward attaining a “whole-object” quality that can be understood once and for all.  Splitting would demand an operative viewing. 기존의 건축적 notion들에 question하는 것이다. 파괴는 아니다. 대안적 시각? 

Conventional architectural space provided the surroundings for the viewer, but overlaid across this conventional space were the spaces opened up by the dissection cuts.

new spaces opened up. PM 하고 연결가능?? different movement. (131)

As with Bataille’s altération, a demand was set up for a continuing operation of destruction which would guard against stasis. It was not necessarily the fabric of the building that was offered for further dissection, but the subject of architecture. This insistence situated the subject within a dualism rather than a dialectical process; rather than moving toward architectural truth, the subject merely moved, had to maintain a movement that both grounded him/her within a world of architecture or of work, and made him/her aware of the conventions such a world demands for its own stability.

To this extent, the dissections did not mark the replacement of architecture with something else; they merely worked to reveal the presuppositions it makes. They offered a simultaneous experience of architectural space (the building itself ), of a representation of that space (the cut), and of a denial of that representation (the synecdochal workings of the cut), an experience that would not reject the dominant tradition of architecture or replace it with an equivalent, but that would merely rehouse it. This experienced form of architecture would thus include the previous idealized Form of Architecture, and work in such a way as to open it to reformulation at every moment.

Dual / superimposition은 연결 가능할듯! in-between. two extremes. 이것을 통해서 전복하는 게 아니라 reform하는 것이다. not rejection. but to rehouse. (132)

The visitor effectively occupied two spaces simultaneously, and was moved on from these spaces by their conflictual demands, by the awkwardness noted earlier. The awareness of this superposition would open the visitor to the possibility of inscribing him or herself in the experience, of effectively seeing him or herself occupying another space, a situation linked to the structure of trauma where the individual realizes the presence of a loss, especially of (his/her own) death. The sadistic, or necrophilic, impulses that have been associated with the successive destructions of altération open the viewer to the prospect not only of their own mortality, but also and through this to the prospect that others might interpret the experience in a different way, or that they might be there after the viewer’s own death. The temporality that such a perception begins to set up is more complex than that admitted by Hegel’s system (at least the system as Bataille read it) as it re-admits a natural temporality into the process of human perception, which has the consequence of broadening it out to demand the inclusion of a social dimension. (133)

In this operation, these are not merely works of spatial complexity, and their interest lies in the way that the consequences of the dissection move the piece beyond architecture. These works are no longer architectural, and yet they cannot be considered without acknowledging the machinations of architecture: paradoxically, they are wholly and impossibly architectural. (134)

Although Gordon Matta-Clark’s works were not works of architecture, they can illustrate the possibilities of an architecture operating beyond teleology. Rather than being legible “once and for all,” what they actually reveal is the coexistence, the juxtaposition, or superposition of several (possibly conflicting) readings or uses, partly productive of the vertigo discussed earlier. (137)

footnote 33:

33 Gordon Matta-Clark: “you can’t see Splitting [in a single view]. You have to walk – this is always one of the big issues which I’ve brought up before: the difference between a kind of anecdotal piece – I don’t know how to classify it – and this sort of internal piece. There are certain kinds of pieces that can be summarized – or at least characterized – very quickly from a single view. And then there are other ones which interest me more, finally, which have a kind of internal complexity which doesn’t allow for a single and overall view,
which I think is a good thing. I like it for a number of reasons, one of which is that it does defy that category of a sort of snapshot scenic work. The other thing is that it also defies that whole object quality that is with all sculpture, even with people who have escaped the so-called ‘sculpture habit’ by going into some sort of landscape, or extra-gallery, extra-museum type of territorial situation.” Gordon Matta-Clark, interviewed by Judith Russi Kirshner, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, February 13, 1978. Reproduced in
Gordon Matta-Clark, ed. Maria Casanova (Valencia: IVAM Centro Julio Gonzàlez, 1993), p. 390. Pamela Lee’s book on Matta-Clark, Object to be Destroyed: The Work of Gordon Matta-Clark (Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 2000), covers several building dissections. On Splitting, in particular, see pp. x–xii and pp. 11–33; on Circus . . . , see pp. 137–61. Lee also acknowledges a debt to Bataille’s influence in the overall economy of her work; see
note 7, pp. 236–7.


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