What happens when you cross a boundary to enter a space? Does the agency of the space affect your perspective as you transgress the border from its outside to its inside? Does Apple want you to be the same person when you enter their retail establishments that you are when you enter a truckstop toilet or a hospital waiting room? Spaces have power. They exert agency upon your perspective, for better or for worse.
When you go to an art space do you put on your art glasses? Do you activate your cerebral, sophisticated self? Is it easier to find meaning on a blank piece of paper when it is on a museum wall than it is when it is in an Office Depot? If so, why? How many selves can be activated in one day? How can one self contain many other selves?
This is the south entrance to the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City. Notice the lengths to which this space goes in positioning you as you enter. Your body, your history, your mind. The steps are short in height but long, causing you to ascend slowly to confront the threshold. In the journey up the stairs you may admire the grandeur of the Nelson’s neoclassical style, an admission of the Greco-Roman origins of American culture. It is clear long before transgressing its colossal doors that you are about to enter a repository of VITALLY IMPORTANT CULTURAL INFORMATION. As the Nelson would have you believe it to be, anyway.
Should it be any surprise then that when Claus Oldenburg and Coosje van Bruggen intervened on this staid and deliberate edifice with their shuttlecocks it was met with a chorus of disapproval? In transmuting the Nelson and its gardens into a mammoth game of badminton, do the shuttlecocks modify the self that is supposed to enter the space? If so, how? Do the shuttlecocks modify the meaning of the building itself? If so, how? Is the building being made fun of? Is our culture being made fun of? Are you being made fun of? In being exposed to this humorous gesture are you any longer prepared to receive VITALLY IMPORTANT CULTURAL INFORMATION?