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Table Cloth

07/28/2011

Table Cloth is a new performance space in the courtyard of Schoenberg Hall at the UCLA Herb Alpert School of Music in Los Angeles. The project is a result of ongoing research into the reuse of temporary structures and installations. A collaboration between the UCLA Department of Architecture and Urban Design, the Herb Alpert School of Music, and the UCLA Design Media Arts; Table Cloth serves as an integrated set piece, backdrop, and seating area for student musical performance and everyday social interaction. It is made of hundreds of individual low, coffee-style tables and three legged stools. Each of these household items is a unique product (no two are alike), fabricated specifically for the installation by Ball Nogues.

The public can take home the tables and stools after the run of the installation. The tables and stools link together collectively to form a “fabric” that hangs from the east wall of the courtyard. When the Table Cloth meets the ground, it unrolls to form an intimate “in the round” performance area. Visitors can sit on the tables and stools within this area. “Tables are places for social interaction,” explains Ball-Nogues. “Dining tables, specifically, facilitate organization and communication within the typical American home. We see this project like the cloth adorning a dining table; however, at Schoenberg it will adorn the courtyard, an important social hub, and will facilitate community at the scale of the University.”

Used for a variety of activities, from musical practice to performance, dance to lectures, and from casual conversations to academic discussions; it will embellish the courtyard throughout the summer of 2010. Because of the work’s size and the materials used, its presence within the space helps to reduce reverberation and alter other acoustical phenomena. The processes of designing manufacturing, assembling, and dismantling the performance space are examples of a unique design and manufacturing methodology that moves beyond and constructively critiques the three “R’s” of sustainability – recycling, reuse, and repurposing, processes that typically down-cycle material into less valuable states. After the structure has served its function as a performance space, the components comprising the installation will be dismantled to become smaller scaled household commodities, – tables and seating. This process, referred to as “Cross Manufacturing” by Ball-Nogues, is an integrated design and manufacturing strategy that harnesses digital computation and fabrication technologies to make architectural scaled installations that become collections of smaller scaled products. The items will be immediately available and given away as consumer goods, once the installation is dismantled.

This approach moves beyond recycling and reuse. By using a consumer good as its basic building block, the project expands and critiques notions of “green” architecture. As a visual concept, the installation serves as a symbolic gesture of sustainability and a poetic reminder that the buildings and temporary pavilions we construct are impermanent: frozen moments in an ongoing flow of products and materials. Outside of its environmental considerations, the Table Cloth dramatically re-contextualizes consumer products – symbols of mass consumption and standardization– into alternative gestures of hope and one of a kind manufacturing. Table Cloth will be the site of performances hosted by the Herb Alpert School of Music through the summer of 2010. Please see the Herb Alpert School of Music Website to confirm dates and start times.

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