suckerPUNCH: describe your project.
catie NEWELL of alibi studio: Amplifying, transporting, and distorting the volumes surrounding and within a contested existing domestic environment, Second Story reconfigures spaces that were once familiar into an “other” occupation and visual register. Used to imprint the space and excite the atmosphere, this inhabitable texture is driven by the manipulation of factory standard acrylic rods to capture, manipulate, and distort the existing volumes of the second story of Spencer’s Funeral home in Flint, Michigan, a house slated for demolition.
Inherently transparent, the material both captures and permits the passing of light, visually distorting its presence and the view beyond, through refraction and reflection, altering both the context, the perception of its physical boundaries, and heightening the role of the building in the neighborhood. The work agitates, relocates, and makes accessible new volumes otherwise once unoccupiable: the exterior zone, the wall depth, and the depth of a windowsill. As a further technique of distortion and interplay of tectonic connection and assembly, the acrylic rods are systematically manipulated through the use of heat. One such technique allows for the bending and forming of components to create a pattern that resonates with its context, but also distorts the a priori relationships within the house to construct depth and volume originally unused or nonexistent. A further alteration is the tapering and pulling of the material, developing extensions and strands that flee in a near weightless in pursuit of space, altering the perception and depth they occupy. The otherness of Second Story is further heightened by suspending the piece above the ground by tethering it to the building’s roof trusses so that it hovers to promote a ephemeral sense of space, an attuned acknowledgement of its surrounding, and an implied stretched atmosphere.
sP: what or who influenced this project?
cN: The empty voids of Detroit, Flint, and other cities of the Rust Belt and the intentional or accidental material reconfigurations of survival, time, or accident.
sP: what were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
cN: The fall of night, the hum of the heat gun, the pour of the rain, current discussions about the Rust Belt cities.
sP: whose work is currently on your radar?
cN: Lead Pencil Studio, Gordon Matta-Clark, Rachel Whiteread, Ball-Nogues, Cornelia Parker
Funded by: Graham Grant, National Endowment for the Arts, University of Michigan CRLT
Design and Installation Team: Catie Newell, Lauren Bebry, Katie Schenk, Grant Weaver, Charles Newell, Maciej Kaczynski, Lisa Sauve.
Photos by: Catie Newell and Katie Schenk of Alibi Studio.
Second Story was commissioned by Extension Gallery in Chicago, IL. It is on view until September.