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The Edge of Sculpture

Tuesday 9 May 2017, 2.00PM

Speaker(s): Various

The Edge of Sculpture

Tuesday 9 May 2017

 Tree House 

Humanities Research Centre


2.00: Helen Hills (University of York): Introduction

2.10: Teresa Stoppani (South Bank University):The Model

2.40: Fabrizio Ballabio (AA): Hard Cores

3.10-3.30: Discussion

3.30-3.45: Tea Break

3.45: Charlie Gere (Lancaster University): Rock Music

4.15: Martin Suckling (University of York): Sculpting Sound: metaphor, material and contemporary music

5:00: Discussion




Teresa Stoppani: The Model

The model could hold multiple associations and also remain unknowable. It could just be a very particular form that is impossible to describe, or a piece of material that stands in, or acts as a foil to something else. The model is both evasive and ridiculously precise.

—Ian Kiaer


Both transient and translative, the concept of the model has a fundamentally ambiguous relationship with the ideation, the representation and the construction of architecture. It is this ambiguity that enables the model to engage with the multiple relations that affect the definition of architecture as both a discipline and an edifice.  As a prototype, a template or a guide for the production of the edifice of architecture, the model both proclaims and obfuscates the point of origin of the project, triggering a multiplicity of variations that render the discipline and the practice of architecture possible. As an object, the model offers a description, a presentation and, more significantly, an anticipation of the architectural object. Engaging in the making of architecture a plurality of agents beyond the historical figure of the artifex architect, the model challenges the single authorship of architecture.  The model’s oscillations between object and concept (and object again), engage the production of the architectural project in a dynamic set of references, tensions and variations that continue to involve the viewer/actor/inhabitant. When the model loses this dynamic between transition and translation and presents itself as a resolved object it no longer is ‘model’.  The talk will explore such oscillations across a series of architectural examples, and in relation to the intellectual and physical explosion of the architectural model performed in the work of Ian Kiaer.


Teresa Stoppani is Professor of Research in Architecture at London South Bank University where she directs the Centre for Research in Architecture and Robotic Construction. Her research interests are the relationship between architecture theory and the design process in the urban environment, and the influence on the specifically architectural of other spatial and critical practices. She is author of Paradigm Islands: Manhattan and Venice (Routledge, 2010) and of the forthcoming Unorthodox Ways to Rethink Architecture and the City (Routledge, 2018) and editor with Giorgio Ponzo and George Themistokleous of This Thing Called Theory (Routledge, 2016).



Fabrizio Ballabio: Hard Cores

In his lectures on aesthetics, German philosopher Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel describes sculpture as an art which has two edges: a soft edge animated by sheen and colour, beyond which spatial intervals and shapes are rendered onto a two-dimensional plane. This is the edge which separates sculpture from the art of painting. A hard edge composed of inorganic matter, of which the forms are governed by the laws of gravity and the abstract relations of solid geometry. This is the edge which sculpture shares with architecture understood as a fine art. This paper will focus on the latter of these two edges reflecting upon the disciplinary boundaries between sculpture and architecture as articulated in Hegel’s characterisation of the arts. Moreover, Hegel’s postulates will be measured against a number of key works realised by the German architect Ludwig Mies van der Rohe between 1926 and 1943—particularly, his design for a monument to the November Revolution, which was built in 1926 and is commonly known as the ‘Rosa Luxembourg and Karl Liebknecht’ memorial; and his latter ‘Museum for a Small City’ project, commissioned by the American journal Architectural Forum. Through Mies’ works, the inquiry seeks, on the one hand, to articulate the two disciplines’ respective 'modes of presentation' with regard to their inner spiritual content and the way in which this latter is internalised from an external, perceiving subject. On the other, it will explore the centrality of sculptural arrangements within Mies’ collages, not as mere placeholders for artistic works, but as elements which are co-constitutive of his architectural propositions.


Fabrizio Ballabio is Course Tutor at the Architectural Association, London. Educated at school in Italy, he has MA with Distinction from the AA, and an MSc from the Mendrisio Academy of Architecture, Switzerland.


Charlie Gere: Rock Music

I will present a tentative effort at a kind of undisciplined, experimental writing, linking rocks, sound and music through a series of metonymic associations, governed by chance and contingency.


Charlie Gere is Professor of Media Theory and History in the Lancaster Institute for Contemporary Arts, Lancaster University. He is the author of Digital Culture (2002), Art, Time and Technology (2006), Non-relational Aesthetics, with Michael Corris (2009), and Community without Community in Digital Culture (2012), as well as co-editor of White Heat Cold Technology (2009), Art Practice in a Digital Culture (2010), and Unnatural Theology: Religion, Art, and Media after the Death of God (Bloomsbury, forthcoming), as well as many papers on questions of technology, media and art. His current project is tentatively entitled Lacunae: Writings in and around the Lake District and the North West of England, and is a kind of anti-travel book. In 2007 he co-curated Feedback, a major exhibition on art responsive to instructions, input, or its environment, in Gijon, Northern Spain, and was co-curator of FutureEverybody, the 2012 FutureEverything exhibition, in Manchester.



Martin Suckling: Sculpting Sound: metaphor, material and contemporary music

Of the many transformations in music since the breakdown of tonality, perhaps one of the most profound has been a shift in governing metaphor from the idea of discourse and narrative to one which prioritises the sculptural possibilities of sound. Such a change in perspective allows a radically different approach to composition, where mass, density and transparency of material alongside the structural use of timbre replace such traditional concepts as melody, harmony and phrase.  A brief survey of key works illustrating this ‘sculptural turn’ in music will conclude with a discussion of two recent pieces which respond to the ceramic art of Edmund de Waal: Psalm, for spatialised ensemble of 13 players and The White Road, for flute and orchestra.

Martin Suckling, a composer and violinist, is a Senior Lecturer in the Music Department at the University of York. He holds doctorates from Yale University and the Royal Academy of Music and was appointed Associate Composer with the Scottish Chamber Orchestra in 2013. He has been commissioned by many leading orchestras and ensembles including the London Symphony Orchestra, Deutsches Symphonie-Orchester Berlin, BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra, Royal Scottish National Orchestra and London Sinfonietta, and has benefitted from residencies at the Royal Shakespeare Company, Aldeburgh, Aspen and IRCAM. His music is performed internationally to considerable critical acclaim and has won numerous awards including the 2008 Royal Philharmonic Society Composition Prize and, most recently, a highly sought-after Philip Leverhulme Prize.  Martin is a Faber Music 'House Composer' and his scores are available to view online at





The programme for the day is available here:Programme: Edge of Sculpture (MS Word , 21kb)

Location: Berrick Saul Treehouse