‘Caesura’ is the inaugural public exhibition for the Reid Gallery, located in the new Glasgow School of Art (GSA) building, The Reid Building, designed by Steven Holl Architects. A ‘caesura’ (pronounced say-sura) denotes a brief, silent pause in poetry or music, during which metrical time is not counted. As the new Reid Building welcomes people and springs into life, occupied by its community, visited by the public, this exhibition is intended to act as a pause in time, the beginning of a new chapter for the art school.
Steven Holl Architects’ buildings have often been inspired by the connection between architecture, music and poetry. Steven Holl has spoken of the Reid building as a ‘Zen-like response to the Mackintosh building’. He has also inspired the title of the exhibition with his quote: ‘the twilight of northern cities …offers a caesura, a silent uncertain suspension for reflective… thoughts’. The new works commissioned for ‘Caesura’, offer the opportunity to encounter, experience and reflect on this new space.
The three commissions are by GSA graduates Raydale Dower (MSc Sound for the Moving Image, lives and works Glasgow), Briggs & Cole (Product Design / MFA, live and work Glasgow) and Heaven Baek (MFA, lives and works Seoul). The resulting work responds in different ways to this new architecture, the show’s themes and this specific time in The Glasgow School of Art’s history. The graduates are from different disciplines, reflecting a guiding principle in the design of the Reid Building which was to create space for cross-disciplinary endeavour.
Heaven Baek who lives and works in Seoul has been commissioned by The Glasgow School of Art Exhibitions to make a new video work using another Steven Holl Architects building, Daeyang Gallery and House, as the creative location in her city. The Daeyang Gallery and House is in the Seongbuk District. Its design was inspired by a 1967 sketch for a music score.
Her film, “성북구 성북동 Seongbuk district Seongbuk resident” refers to the district that the Daeyang Gallery and House is located in. Whilst Seongbuk district has one of the richest demographics it also contains an old slum town. Seongbuk often appears as a location in Korean soap operas for their wealthy characters. The script for Heaven Baek’s “성북구 성북동 Seongbuk district Seongbuk resident” is made up from two different sets of interviews. The first set is from her interviews with actors and actresses who play Seongbuk district characters in Korean soap operas. The second are interviews Baek made with actual residents from the Seongbuk district. Here, Baek asked locals who live in the slum town to imagine the life of people living ‘next door’. In the video, the actors and actresses play their characters from their real soap opera, using Daeyang Gallery and House as their ‘home’. They speak the words from the real residents of Seongbuk district -in particular what the slum locals think of their soap opera characters. The swap continues with the locals speaking with the words from the soap opera stars whilst being filmed in their real situations.
Raydale Dower has brought together a composition of works for ‘Caesura’, entitled Implicit Form. The installation explores the links between sculptural and sonic form, with new work by Dower situated alongside three references: the work of the Russian sculptor, Naum Gabo (1890-1977); the oscilloscope patterns of US mathematician and artist Ben Laposky (1914-2000); and Le Corbusier, Xenakis & Varese’s “Philips Pavilion” which designed for Expo ’58 in Brussels.
Gabo’s Linear Construction No. 1 (1942-43) is on loan from The Pier Arts Centre Collection, Orkney. Gabo first came to England in 1935, where he began to use nylon filament in his sculpture. He wished to explore space and time within his works, aiming to produce a self contained object that would suggest the universal and infinite within implicit form. This exploration of space and time is also explored within Ben Laposky’s prints from the ‘Oscillions’ series (1952-54). Here, oscilloscope patterns are created using sound waves and trace the movement of a line on a cathode ray tube over time.
‘Implicit Form’ features a new sculptural work by Raydale Dower called Poème électronique, Revealed Structure, (After Iannis Xenakis, Le Corbusier & Edgard Varèse, 1958) which is made from old piano wood. This form is based on original architectural plans and engineering drawings of the Philips Pavilion, which were obtained from Le Corbusier Foundation, Paris. The sculpture is made from piano wood as this is a material that implicitly holds sound. The original pavilion was commissioned by Philips electronic company and designed to house a multimedia spectacle which celebrated postwar technological progress. Much of the design process was assigned to experimental composer Iannis Xenakis, with the resulting pavilion formed in the shape of a series of hyperbolic paraboloids. Inside the pavilion, Edgard Varèse’s Poème électronique composition was spatialized by sound projectionists using telephone dials and played through speakers set in the asbestos structure.
Dower’s new sound work for the Reid Gallery called Variation on Metastasis, plays at intervals. This sound work generates variable sine wave permutations on the hyperbolic-paraboloid form as used by Iannis Xenakis. The conceptual thread that connects these artworks and relates directly to Linear Construction No. 1 (1942-3) is exploring implicit space or movement within space. Sound is periodic, occurring over time and as a form exists as movement within space.
Briggs & Cole
For Caesura Briggs & Cole have responded to the relationship between the Mackintosh Building and Reid Building with a number of pieces including an oak and steel board room table that brings together imagery from the architecture of both buildings, an etched mirror, a 4m-long silk wall hanging, a brass plaque and a glass vase.
The five-section crystal clear glass vase was created using the proportions of the stairwell steps in the Mackintosh Building. A carefully selected range of fresh flowers - including thistle, sea holly, spray roses and lilac - will be placed in the vase by the designers each week with the combinations changing over the duration of the show. Briggs & Cole were inspired by finding out that Mackintosh would regularly cut and fastidiously arrange flowers within his interior settings. In ‘Vase/Handpicked flowers’, Briggs and Cole’s selection of indigenous, Scottish flowers references the machair which is a key feature of the new Reid Building, as well as evoking Mackintosh’s drawings and watercolours which often referenced the local, natural environment.
‘Brass panel’ placed on the gallery floor, references the use of brass on doors in the Mackintosh building, and the subsequent use of metal by Steven Holl Architects on the Reid Building’s main entrance doors.
Briggs and Cole as part of their research were interested to learn that the Mackintosh Room was originally designed as the board room, but was found by the Board of Governors to be too feminine. A masculine board room was constructed in smaller dimensions with wooden panelling one floor down. With the Reid building being named after a woman, Dame Seona Reid, and facing the Mackintosh building named after a man, the designers were keen to bring this dynamic into their designs, represented by ‘Table’ being a board room table, with its collage surface splicing details from both buildings into a different form.
 Foreword, Steven Holl, July 1991, ‘Edge of a City’, Pamphlet Architecture.
 The music score was by the composer Istvan Anhalt, “Symphony of Modules,” which Steven Holl Architects discovered in John Cage’s book “Notations”
 A hyperbolic paraboloid can be found in architecture and sound. It is a structure that has a doubly ruled surface, containing two families of mutually skew lines which make the curving shape. The lines in each family are parallel to a common plane, but not to each other.