The Building as Organism: The Circulatory System
installation in 19th c. school
building, Edinburgh, Scotland 1993
stone cistern / mirror / light / laboratory apparatus / museum signage
All water in the building circulated through the
cistern. When any water was used, in toilets or taps, the water churned in the cistern. I
threw the image of the water onto the ceiling with lights and mirrors and used lab
apparatus -- pumped, red dyed water and plastic pellets through glass tubing -- to
demonstrate the circulation of fluids in the human body.
Artist Adrienne Klein encountered the
former St. Mary's Primary School, new home of the DeMarco European Art Foundation, only
one week after the school had ceased operation.
"Evidence of lively school
activities -- songbooks, gym equipment, the children's drawings -- was everywhere. Added
to that vitality was a new enterprise, the creation of the arts center.
All buildings have an infrastructure
but in this one the functional, working parts of the building were especially apparent.
Everywhere new communication and electrical wires were being laid. Walls barely disguised
their support structures. I found a remarkable room, dim and filled with probably 50
years' debris. The room contained the original Victorian plumbing cistern. Water used
anywhere in the building flowed through this tank. The building seemed most like an
organism with this the center of its circulatory system."
Klein's site-specific installation
utilizes those elements already present in the small room -- stairs and ladder leading up
to a light shaft, and the wood and lead cistern -- and with lights and mirror heightens
the dappled light reflected on the ceiling. Laboratory apparatus demonstrates the
circulation of fluid vital to the life of the building/body.
-press release, Edinburgh Festival