In this exhibition temporary ceilings and shaft ways were built in the gallery to separate light coming from windows and electric bulbs away from the spaces where it was meant to fall. The materials and methods used were the cheapest and fastest available, and no formal engineering or specialized equipment was involved. All spaces were darkened underneath the barriers except for in the main exhibition room where a small amount of light was let out through a valve. Once these infrastructures were in place they redirected the interior light of the gallery on their own; there was no need to tend their functioning other than opening the gallery for visitors.
In near darkness the simple box layout of the gallery became difficult to navigate making it necessary to walk slowly. After some visual adjustment the changes to the gallery became clearer. The span of drop ceiling in the main gallery was slanted downward towards the far end of the room to cut the gallery space in half diagonally. The valve, a repurposed wood burning stove, illuminated an area near the deeper part of the room. It was both a functional outlet and an ornamental nozzle that conditioned the flow of light with visual connotations of “hearth and home.”
The design of this augmentation to the Todd Madigan Gallery was modeled after hydroelectric dams that hold back massive amounts of flowing water and then release it through equipment that produces electricity. This electricity flows from its generator to a substation where it is then distributed through the regional grid to individual businesses and homes. Water released through a dam is distributed through a region in ways other than its natural course of flow. Middle entity businesses manage the allocation of electricity and water from its sources to individual users, who then select the final expenditure of these resources.
I’m interested in performing an analogous industrial activity of resource acquisition and distribution adapted to the physical and durational scale of exhibitions. In this, the seventh in a series of Substation exhibitions, rather than import pre-fabricated items for display, I build forms on site that come between the gallery’s architectural mechanisms of display, what I consider its resources, and its audience. I don’t treat a gallery as blank or empty until filled but as a reservoir of light and space available for use. I seek to divert and control these essential raw materials inside a given exhibition venue and deliver them in repackaged form to a gallery audience. - Bill Jenkins on Substation 7