Training Wheels


Installed at the Ohio State University Banvard Gallery, 2015
Often big things seem more serious than small things. Big things are heavier, more in the way, more noticeable, more aggravating. Their consequences just seem more real. Small things, on the other hand, are easily brushed aside and forgotten like a memory we aren’t sure ever happened. This installation aspires to make something big seem as itinerant as something small.

An architecture installation likes to think of itself as something big. It wants to be taken seriously like a building, which we can all agree is a serious big thing. But an architecture installation is limited by its size and can never be anything more than a desire to be big and serious. In this installation, that desire is made manifest in the tension between the collection of many large wheels and their model-like materiality.

Although big things usually suggest a form of stability, these wheels may roll around into any configuration. They are lightweight and ready to be rearranged at any time, to a limit. The suggestion of mutability posed by a bunch of wheels is only that — a suggestion — since the wheels are stuck inside a gallery only slightly larger than the collection. Rather than roll, the kinks in the wheels’ circular geometry and their askew centers of gravity constrains endless rolling to rocking back and forth, teasing a sense of infinite movement and instead offering only a slight disruption from a stable location.

The wheels are made of cardboard, a cheap yet strong paper product. Cardboard makes good models, but not very good buildings. The cardboard in this installation tunes the larger-than-a-person objects towards the qualities of an over-scaled model. The wheels, meanwhile, are staged like large drawings, sharing the same scale of geometric, notational, material, and conceptual parts.

Training Wheels is an oblique reference to the development of an architectural practice. Its title is fitted to the conceptualization of the Emerging Practitioner Fellowship, and suggests that the work is a contextual installation scaled to fit all the normal aspects of architectural practice like a site, a budget, a schedule, available labor, material constraints, and, of course, a job title.