On the occasion of the 2021 Delong Steel Sculpture Art Festival in Tangshan, China, designer Hu Quanchun of Field Conforming Studio created Column Matrix, a corten installation made of sculptural creeper vines. Settling within an expansive wetland bird reserve surrounded by tall industrial facilities, the artwork intends to establish a ‘landmark’ in the area and mitigate the oppressive feeling and visual abruptness of the large property development.
Column Matrix by Field Conforming Studio consists of nine hollow columns, each of which is enclosed by steel panels. The number of columns and the distance between them were determined based on a deduction process through models, for the purpose of achieving a strong sense of clustered blocks.
To endow this work with ‘expressions’ and enable it to convey messages, Hu Quanchun put emphasis on materials. Steel is undoubtedly a symbol of modern industrial civilization, but steel panels often give people an impression of coolness, solidness, and heaviness. To let the work present a sense of dailiness and affinity, he decided to give the steel panels a warm, transparent, and lightweight feel. Therefore, the designer converted the solid steel panels into the textures of creeper vines to enclose the column space.
To realize that sprawling vine effect, the steel panels were treated through a process of laser carving and welding. The true intention of the vine-like pattern is not to be decorative, but to‘imply the existence of a possible spatial entity.’
The scene of creepers sprawling on architecture is very frequently seen in daily life. When detaching the volume, the growing status of the creepers can still reflect the form of the former architectural space. The memory and ambiguity that the creepers carry is what Hu Quanchun is interested in. In Column Matrix, the designer has ‘removed’ the dense, solid columns, and left the corten vines to outline their silhouettes and carry their memory.
To enrich visitors’ experience in the column space, each mesh-like column is set with different openings, creating diversified circulation routes and sightlines. Upon entering the column space, guests will be immersed in a spatial realm awash with light and shadows. At the same time, when observed from a distance, the installation stands out on the site with its dense volumes that blur the real and the virtual. In this way, the piece presents different visual effects when viewed from different directions or angles, bringing visitors varied experiences.