BOFFO Michael Bastian
Swis.Loc Architecture’s proposal for the BOFFO Michael Bastian competition is profoundly influenced by the Maine light and atmosphere that informed this season’s looks. We are captivated by the exquisite texture and detail in every corner of Andrew Wyeth’s paintings. The landscape and quality of light he depicted became our muse; in the landscape’s vegetation, raw umber, raw sienna, and yellow and gold ochre; in the changing light, at times a fiery orange, other times a diffuse and somber grey. Our aim is to transport visitors to the sense of space and solitude that is evoked in the far northern reaches of New England and in the mood of this season’s collection.
A Separation of Spaces
One’s first engagement with the installation is an oblique view of the shipping containers lifted upon timber piers, creating discontinuity with the space of the headhouse and reinforcing that a different space exists within. A 40-foot timber ramp of basic and monumental form extends from the glazed entry wall. The ramp and the interior are lined with soil, vegetation, and brush transported from a blueberry meadow located near Ellsworth, Maine, on the family property of Swis.Loc partner, Timothy Lock. The mid-to-late October timing of the BOFFO installation is perfect. The relocated landscape will have the near peak autumn colors of coastal Maine – a Wyeth painting in the flesh.
An Exchange of the Authentic
As visitors enter the installation, they will find the landscape has not been the only exchange of the literal and figurative. Inside, six looks from the collection hang from weathering steel rods staked into the transported earth, their rusted patina playing off the autumn palette. Beyond them, a 50-foot rear projection video wrapping two faces of the interior depicts the Maine landscape from which the earth and vegetation originated. Arranged in the mid-ground of this remote landscape, six more looks from the collection hang off the same weathered steel rods, exposed to the wind, rain, and sun.
A Passage of Light and Time
The video is crisp and clear. There is little movement. Wind shakes the vegetation, perhaps occasionally lifting the sleeve of a shirt. The light changes slowly. To increase visitors’ immersion into this distant atmosphere, color-programmable LEDs line the base of the wall opposite the projection, suffusing the space with light exactly matching the changing qualities of the Maine scene. To further heighten the experience, certain times of day will be carefully stitched together; noon, dusk, twilight and midnight all pass within the span of 30 minutes. The installation space, with its ambient lighting pinned to the video, will pulse in synchronicity with the landscape, at times leaving the clothing – both in the space and in the landscape – illuminated by only a small spot light at the base of each weathered steel post.