Architecture as Air, the new installation to take over the Curve Gallery at the Barbican – the space that stretches round the back of the concert hall – is so delicate that visitors have to take off their shoes to view it. But view is perhaps not the right word as it’s, well, pretty tricky to see.
The structure, conceived and built by Tokyo-based architect-artist Junya Ishigami, is both frustrating and fascinating at the same time. On first entering, all the eye sees in the gallery is a set of string columns joined by string beams, seemingly floating in the air and stretching across the 80-metre space.
In reality, each column is anchored by dozens of virtually invisible support wires, which create a complex tent-like structure. A helpful Barbican staff member dressed in black stood on the opposite side of the exhibit to show up the delicate, minutely realised ambition of the piece. Without that, it is near impossible to see the supporting frame.
Ishigami’s architectural and gallery work (another example pictured) aims to break down the barriers between inside and outside, and nature and architecture. Architecture as Air is inspired by clouds and raindrops, with the main supports of the sculpture the width of a raindrop and the invisible wires not much more substantial than cloud droplets.
The installation is open until 16 October 2011. Admission is free.
Image: Junya Ishigami Another scale of architecture – cloud, Toyota Municipal Museum of Art, 2010 | Courtesy Gallery Koyanagi | © Junya Ishigami, junya.ishigami+associates | Photograph by: Yasushi Ichikawa