Casper Mueller Kneer Architects

This is a Voice, Wellcome Trust

Spatial concept: one complex body

The gallery is kept open plan and not devided. One large object is inserted that enters a dialogue with the existing space and its perimeter walls. An articulated body, or mini- architecture, occupies the centre of the gallery space and offers focus and varying display conditions for the exhibition and its content.

Moving between a horizontal plane setting out a datum (a type of table) and semi-enclosed interior conditions (open rooms) the exhibition architecture creates diverse opportuni- ties for displaying content and organises the visitor’s path. Spaces are being created in and around this piece.

Visitor’s path:
a journey between inside and outside

This exhibition architecture creates six zones of different sizes and shapes which reflect the thematic sections of the exhibition. These zones are linked through a linear path that meanders between inside and outside, enclosed and open conditions.

Each thematic section consists of an immersive art work (semi-enclosed condition) and a thematic territory associated with it with display possibilities on horizontal and vertical sur- faces (open condition).

The immersive works are distributed so they do not compete with each other. The choreography of entrances and exits, their spacing, articulation and orientation aims to produce a varied journey for the visitor and produces the specific sound and light conditions required for each piece. Selected exter- nal windows are opened up to allow daylight to enter the space in the first sections of the exhibition. The visitor moves from light to dark.


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Rhythm and spacing:
long and short distance views

The exhibition architecture allows for long views across the space as well as close-up views of objects. This play of long and short views keeps visitors engaged.

Casper Mueller Kneer Ltd Architects

Moving through the exhibition, visitors encounter varying perspectives and glimpses of exhibits at various distances: Matthew Herbert’s installation (section 5) can already be seen (but not heard) from section 2. Sam Belinfante’s ‘Focus’ (section 3) is visible in the distance already from the previous section. Exhibits will be read together across the space.

The space has varying degrees of density, introducing a rhythm, both in terms of physical form but also displayed content. Clustering exhibits heightens this effect, and varying light conditions (daylight / artificial light) support perceived dif- ferences in densities.

White cubes and black boxes: open interiors

The immersive works require specific treatment, such as the control of light or sound to create acoustically or visually iso- lated spaces. Semi-interior conditions are being provided for these, creating just enough of a white cube / black box condi- tion without fully isolating them, but opening these up as far as possible and integrating them with related content.

These open interiors are customised in terms of the their size, shape and acoustics in relation to the specific work they accommodate. Sound absorbing or reflecting materi- als can be used to control sound bleed and to modulate the acoustic environment.

Being lifted off the ground, even the most enclosed space (Marcus Coate’s ‘Dawn Chorus’) still feels light. Others, such as Emily Smith’s ‘5HZ’ or Imogen Stidworthy’s ‘Castrati’ are opened up more dramatically – providing just enough shelter for the pieces to maintain their immersive quality but to avoid hermetic isolation. For the visitor, these experiences become more social, interactive and integrated.

Ear pavilions, sound surrounds and other moments: sound and listening

Throughout the exhibition, the use of head phones is limited as far as possible. This is achieved by distributing sound- emitting works throughout the space and orienting sound sources away from each other.

Sound is directed and captured with minimal use of technolo- gy but through simple spatial and material means that reflect,

absorb and contain it.

Different experiences of listening (alone and together) and different qualities of sound will be present in the space: from ear pavilions, small cone-shaped recesses in walls which
will whisper to you (Joan La Barbara) or walls that speak (Imogen Stidworthy), to the sound surrounding you at ear level when sitting down with others (Emma Smith), the sound coming at you directly from a source (Samuel Beckett) to the cloud of voices hovering above your head (Matthew Herbert).

Sound (or indeed the voice) is thought of as an omnipresent feature in this exhibition, articulated and experienced in three dimensions, from all directions and in all its tonalities. It is a physical presence in the space – the exhibition architecture the instrument to tune it.

Material tuning

We imagine the external materiality and coloration of the exhibition to be consistent and light. A neutral background for exhibits and events and a strong silhouette in the space.

The interior conditions however, could be varied, tactile
and sensory, including soft and sound absorbing materials, foams, textiles, acoustic boards etc. Here, the individual work and its required acoustic environment would be key to mate- rial choices beyond the visual.

Matthew Herbert commission

We are excited about Matthew Herbert’s commission and
can imagine a number of possible solutions for this. We are currently thinking of ‘The Voice Box’ as a cloud of sound, or suspended field. Like the voice that is floating freely in space, we imagine the answer phones to be floating near the gallery ceiling above the visitor’s heads: 500 voices, dislocated and talking to you from above. As the visitor moves underneath them, he / she move through clouds of spoken words, pick- ing up fragments of messages. This idea could be a starting point for further engagement with the artist and the curators.

Adaptation to the Powerhouse

The exhibition architecture can easily be re-organised to adapt to the Powerhouse without loosing its structure, look and feel. Here interesting opportunities are arising.

Whereas at the Wellcome Trust horizontal views across the space will dominate due to the restricted ceiling heights, the exhibition at the Powerhouse offers the opportunity to play with exaggerated heights and the view from above.

With an immense ceiling height to work with, the exhibition could grow vertically, creating more pronounced and dramatic internal spaces.

Additionally, the horizontal plane could be used more exten- sively and intentionally for display purposes as it will be viewed from the mezzanine level above.

This ‘aerial view’ of the exhibition is unusual and offers a unique perspective. New content could be added harvesting this.

Flexibility of Display

The exhibition architecture offers display opportunity for dif- ferent types of exhibits and allows for content to be changed or added during the design process. Once in operation, removable glass bells and glass covers will allow access

to content for maintenance purposes and accommodate a potentially changing display.

Lighting strategy and colour contrast

The lighting strategy makes use of existing lighting tracks and fittings and complements these with bespoke lighting within selected instances. The existing spot lights will be used to illuminate exhibits and create the right mood for the immersive art works. Backgrounds are kept light and neutral in colour to provide strong contrast for the exhibits on display.