Friday, 23 March 2007 05:54

Plasma Studio | icon 018 | December 2004

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photo: Peter Guenzel

words Kieran Long

Plasma Studio have designed an exhibition consisting of a roomful of steel. It was the practice’s first in London, and appeared in a nameless gallery near Tate Modern on Bankside in October.

The installation was created from 50 sheets of steel punched with holes using a CNC (Computer Numeric Controlled) punch press technique. The triangular pattern was defined by perforations in the thin steel that allowed it to be bent into a faceted form. The folds gave the steel stiffness and strength, as well as morphing it into niches for the exhibits and creating screens for projections.

Holger Kehne, one of the principals of Plasma Studio, said: "The material is only 0.7mm thick, it’s very flimsy really. It is ironic perhaps that we weakened it even more with these cuts, but this enabled the material to crumple into these forms that were incredibly stiff in the end."

The installation is also the first by curator Michael Hardy’s organisation Factio, which aims to create a dialogue between art, architecture, design and fashion. Apart from Plasma’s installation, there was also work by design duo Ian Stallard and Patrik Fredrikson, Jerwood-prize winning fashion designer Shelley Fox and artist Ross Tibbles. Kehne added that the technology used in the installation could have implications for structural or cladding systems.

Film historian Douglas Spencer projected a scrolling series of quotations onto the structure that followed the themes of the exhibition: the Vitruvian architectural principles of firmitas, utilitas and venustas (firmness, commodity and delight). "The moving images projected onto these extreme geometries made it look almost virtual," said Kehne.

Plasma is hoping to resurrect the installation at another London venue soon, possibly the Architectural Association. Kehne said: "It’s in storage somewhere in South Kensington at the moment – we didn’t dismantle it ourselves, so I hope it’s not messed up."

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