November, 2008, an abandoned council flat complex, was pumped with 75,000 liters of copper sulphate solution turning every surface it touches into an impounding growth of glittering mineralized blue crystals, overtaking the sight of a bleak dilapidated interior that once was considered habitable. The installation took six months, within the water sealed tight parameter of reinforced structure; walls and ceilings (Artangel 2008).
Comprised of 20 residential units, the low rise late modernist 1960s social housing; 151-189 Harper Road at South London, is set for demolition as part of the council plan to regenerate Elephant & Castle (Artangel 2008).
The neglected post war complex turned manifestations of crystallization, attracts people from around London, to catch the glimpse of the mystifying cave like , engulfed in deep cobalt matter projectiles; resonates an alluring yet intense chaotic atmospheric interior (Higgins 2013). The beguiling work was also shortlisted for the Turner Prize in 2009 (Tate 2009).
Roger Hiorns’ work reflects the agency of regeneration; perhaps as an evasive evolution of birthing via the brooding of crystals as a void filler; which replicates endlessly. A simultaneous immediacy of progression exudes, as people walked into the space; as the crystal is still ever growing without limit; an autogenetic synthetic environment when condition maintained (Impregnation of an Object 2008).
The act of pouring; forcing mass chemical of hard inert matter to create another artificial environment is to violate, interrogate, and to question the very nature of the building identity; negating a non-functional utilitarian human scaled architecture and reclaiming it from those who had given it up (Impregnation of an Object 2008).
To Hiorns these buildings were hold up by duplicated configurations for the containment of significant amount of people being encouraged to think of the similar thoughts; a collective identity - which he distrust. He believes Brutalists gives one very little architecture, with almost minimal expression one are allowed to have, and they are ungenerous on that respect as reflected on post war buildings that were built around the suburb with small compound of pokey flats, where individualistic attitude were imposed within confined restricted walls expressing Le Corbusier dictum ‘a house is machine for living in’ became a parody itself where human contentment and happiness were replaced with the justification of merely machine like living; where life diminishes (Impregnation of an Object 2008).
For Hiorns, Brutalist architecture simply don’t work and as a model they have not passed the test of time, “…they provide no room for movement, zero mobility to move further, they are completely static materially and emotionally” (Impregnation of an Object 2008).
Figure 4 and 5; sketches of architectural space where ‘Seizure’ was installed at 151-189 Harper Road, London.
Much of post war Modernist period of council development of urban planning and housing projects, are criticized for inhuman characteristics and dehumanizing effects, with the cell-like quality housing projects, and false promise as it stands more of monuments rather than an ideal human habitat. Ironically such approach are still present within the contemporary society, which continues to build its living spaces in similar stacks of standardized restrained small boxes (Charlesworth 2008).
Despite the weaknesses and limitation of the Brutalist architectural output, Hiorns believe beauty still exists in it; that it carries the stain of life, and it is the experience is what Hiorns is interested in – the collective nature of the place; an amalgamation of memories; both in stain, sweat and social investment (Impregnation of an Object 2008).
Crystalizing a space which had a containment of experience that the structure suggest, a life that is spent, and they are at the end of an unknown condition, yet it overcomes a view of totalizing world; towards a different way of thinking - an interpretation that is yet to exist;
“Meaning does not attach itself to anything but instinct” (Jacobson 2010).
When one stands in front of an unknown object, the instinctual habit is often to attempt to associate what one sees with previously known knowledge and information. It is only through the willingness to embrace the unknown, are found in the absence of meaning (Jacobson 2010).
“Seizure resonates the moments when the world without humans would articulate. The machine for living in has stopped. There are no signs of life. Art enters in” (Charlesworth 2008).