|art in the city | precedents | Hiroshi Nakao | Black Maria, 1994|
its curving walls, it suggests varying degrees of thickness. When
closed, it forms a dark and deep hollow. When slowly opening, the
hollow splits and a broad hole is produced. When the split reaches its
full extent, nonetheless, the hole again disappears and the original
hollow folds back on itself, like a glove turned inside out. Now it
looks like a thinly shaved flake. A folding screen. Not the
conventional folding screen that distributes space, but one that sucks
space inward, or rather, inspires space and expires it. A mouth, in
other words, and if so, can the body in it be reduced to a resonant
voice or a quivering breath?" Hiroshi Nakao, 1998
Hiroshi Nakao's Black Maria is named after the nickname given to the film studio Dickenson designed to house Edison's kinetoscope. This nickname was derived from the resemblance of the film studio to the paddy wagons used at the time.
Black Maria is not only a frame, but also a container for landscape. It delineates, then renders ambiguous the distinction between interior and exterior. As a hinged device, a manifold in the landscape, it in-forms many permutations and fluxes between interior and exterior.
The intentions that provide the conceptual framework of this conceptual work of architecture are most poetically expressed by Nakao himself:
"Architecture must now immediately abandon its mythical function of protecting the interior from the exterior and seek rather, through its original function as edge, to protect the exterior from the interior. Instead of hastily repairing the unexpected hole found in the heart of the interior, it must give the hole firm edges so that it will not be filled. Since providing edges or contour is a means of producing a dimension of depth, architecture, by adhering to this trait of character, can make an abrupt dent in, or open a hollow in, our uniformly interiorized, glue-like environment. Architecture will make spaces like puddles in the dips of a paved road, not only altering our monotonous walking rhythm, but also moving us to get our feet wet, cheerfully, in a child-like way. At such a time, our physical bodies might attain that almost cruel brightness of the tram, at the end of Kafka's 'Metamorphosis,' when it carries the family that has set out for the suburbs, leaving the maid to clean up Gregor's dried remains." Hiroshi Nakao, 1998