‘Three ways of seeing’ is the name of one of the installations featured in this issue of Project Baltia. Our editorial staff too has likewise taken three approaches to the theme of ‘exhibiting’. To be more exact, we have identified three functional types of architectural space intended for exhibiting objects of whatever kind: Expo (p. 33), Museum (p. 63), and Boutique (p. 97). The first of these categories presents attainments in the industrial and scientific fields; the second is in one way or another associated with art and aesthetics; and the third gives us the opportunity to acquire the objects which are exhibited.
There are two events which got us thinking about exhibition architecture: Expo 2015 in Milan, where Lithuania, Russia, and Estonia had their own pavilions, and the announcement of the winners in the largest architecture competition in history, the competition to design the Guggenheim Museum in Helsinki (p. 66). However, there is a more general reason for our interest: today’s information society is one which has adopted as its main goal constant self-reproduction in media, and so may justly be described as existing in ‘exhibition mode’. In this issue’s main article the British architecture critic Brian Hatton talks about the key importance of the phenomenon of the ‘installation’ in contemporary architecture. An installation is a device for seeing, “which turns any building into an X-Ray machine” (p. 30). A particular instance of such an ‘installation’ is the display case designed for the Faberge Museum in St Petersburg (p. 92), which diminishes the modern museum to the micro scale. At the other end of the scale is Tomas Boros’ project for The Next Helsinki competition (whose objective was to find an alternative to the Guggenheim Museum), where the museum loses its walls and covers the entire city like a blanket (p. 32). In this way the ‘installation’ becomes total, and the museum resembles nature in Pascale, “whose centre is everywhere, while its surroundings are nowhere”. If architecture really tries to become absolutely permeable, forming nothing but ‘thru-teriors’ (Hatton) and going over entirely to ‘exhibition mode’, how will it be possible to separate exhibits from non-exhibits, and on what will we focus our attention?
Expo 2015 compels us to think that society today is seeking an escape route from the existing state of affairs in self-reference. In other words, the object exhibited is the media-screen itself – and, moreover, the media screen which the visitor brings with him- or herself. The smartphone is a brilliant 21st-century invention. As a result, the object as reliquary – as goal – disappears. Architecture, however, is becoming part of the background (installation) for creating a souvenir selfie. We see this tendency reflected not just in the first of our groups (Expo), but also in our Museum category; an example is Kohtla Mining Park, which in effect exhibits itself as an exotic piece of stage scenery (p. 84). The same tendency is also to be seen in Boutique, where the percentage of goods that is acquired is very small compared with the amount of goods displayed (which explains why shop interiors so closely resemble installations or even Lissitzky’s prouns (p. 102)).
Functioning in exhibition mode, architecture is compelled to make do with the role of infrastructural installation – to be something like a large folder for selfies. However, architecture’s very antiquity as a form of human ‘dwelling-thinking’ (Heidegger) is compelling it to resist today’s modus operandi. Sometimes it allows itself to openly use irony (as in the gigantic curving mirror of the Russian pavilion at World Expo in Milan, p. 40); sometimes it emigrates into the pure ‘poetics of space’ (see the Museum-Apartment of Joseph Brodsky in St Petersburg, p. 88).
Brian Hatton A gallery of Display
Vladimir Frolov Mirror
Ways of looking and problems of nutrition Interview with Francesco Fresa
ru. SPEECH: The Russian Pavilion at Expo 2015
ee. KTA: Gallery of_, Estonian Pavilion at World Expo 2015
lt. JAS: Balance, Lithuanian Pavilion at World Expo in Milan
lv, ru. Latgiprostroy. The Russian Pavilion at World Expo in Seville, 1992
lt. Tomas Grunskis The exhibition as experiment. Lithuanian architecture and Valdas Ozarinskas
fi. Panu Lehtovuori Lighthouse wins Guggenheim, but will this be next Helsinki?
fi. Moreau Kusonki Architects "Art in the city". Entry in the competition to design the Guggenheim Museum, Helsinki, first prize
fi. Vladimir Frolov They will never leave the drawing board Finalists of the competition to design the Guggenheim museum
fi. umbulumbuu. Helsinki Inac. Project from the list of The Next Helsinki competition
ru. Masterskaya Mamoshina Design for a centre for the museum collections of the REM and the SRM museums, St. Petersburg
Studio 44 The State Hermitage museum complex in the Eastern Wing of General stuff building, St. Petersburg
Taming haos Interview with Margit Aule and Margit Argus (KAOS Architects)
ee. KAOS Architects Conservation and adaptation of the Kohtla-Nomme Mining Park concentration plant as a tourist centre
ru. Vitruvius and sons Reconstruction of a communal apartment as the Museum Apartment of Joseph Brodsky, St. Petersburg
ru. BRIZ Studio Permanent exhibition at the Faberge Museum, Shuvalovsky Palace, St. Petersburg
lt. Karolina Jasinskaite Recollecting and foreboding. Creme de la Creme boutiques by Inblum
ru. Plan-S23 PYE Store, St. Petersburg
Learning to think socially Round table on architectural education in Russia at Architecture of St. Petersburg 2015
ru. Gaetano Pesce Waves Club House, Medovoye, St. Petersburg
fi. Avanto Architects Villa Lumi, Vihti
lv. Sintija Vaivade_Arhitekte Deers country villa, Kurzeme, Talsi District
lt. aexn studio Villa L, Vilnius
ee. KARISMA arhitektid Environmental Education Centre, Tartu
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