Conducting a Site Assessment for Site Specific Artworks

Installation, Site Assessment, Site Specific
Work in progress: the beginnings of a new site specific installation.

My installations are site specific.  That is, they are made to exist in specific places, and they respond to the elements and features of the site.

I have been refining how I approach a space.  If my work is to respond to the site, I need to do a bit of research and thinking before I rock up to a site and slap some paint on the walls etc.  That’s where a site investigation can be so helpful.  I need to make notes all about the site and its features.  It may also be helpful to document the space with photographs/video – which could help you to see what you wouldn’t normally notice.

When considering a space, think about:

  • Light conditions: Is it dim, bright, dappled, changing, etc? Time of day, sunlight or artificial light?
  • Shapes and forms present
  • Floor level variances
  • 360 degrees view
  • Pay attention to your body as you walk through the site: this may be assisted by using ear plugs.
  • Temporal nature of the space
  • Site historical information
  • Areas of transit: are there walkways through the space, etc?
  • What people use the space? Who owns the space? Who has responsibility for the site?
  • Interview someone about the site (user/owner/etc)
  • Scale: How high are the ceilings, etc?

I’ve started work in a small space (see above photograph) with lots of elements to consider.  Just briefly: It is a basic rectangular shaped room with a door and a window.  The floor is tiled red and grey.  The walls are white and feature two plaster walls and two masonry walls with the outlines of painted bricks/tiles on its surface.  There are a number of clothing(?) hooks up high in the space, and a radiator in the centre of one wall.  Light pours in from the window, and there is a small amount from fluorescent light overhead.  There is no air movement unless the window is opened. 

I often find the challenge is knowing what to utilise, what to ignore – and is it too obvious to draw varying levels of attention to a particular feature.

Stay tuned for developments to this installation.

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