The Subterfuge Series

The I-beam (also referred to as an “H or W-beam”, “Rolled Steel Joist, or “double-T”) originally rolled in wrought iron, then later of steel, came about through the technological developments of the Industrial Revolution. It forever changed the paradigm of structural compositional thought and completely changed the face of construction. The I-beam has brought on the advent of modern day structures, including the era of the omnipresent Skyscraper.

The I-beam conjures up many nostalgic images that once were once thought of as groundbreaking and revolutionary.  Shropshire Englands’ innovative Iron Bridge with intricate lacework of structural steel; New Yorks’ Empire State Building legendary Mohawk (Kahnawake) ironworkers walking steel beams 1,400 feet above ground. Both of these encompass the “old” steel, for there is always a straight and linear interpretative view of structure; sophisticated, yet rudimentary. Contrast that with the “new” steel as can be seen in such projects as Gehrys’ Guggenheim Museum in Spain, and you get the sense that steel is visualized as a more organic and bio-morphic material. We now weave and intertwine as opposed to merely stack and assemble vertically. Our weaving of structural architectural elements doesn’t necessarily go up, it side winds.

The “new” I-beam twists and contorts which presents an ambiguous space where the idea of subterfuge can take place. The parameters of the I-Beam as Subterfuge can be defined but not necessarily confined by the following assumptions. Firstly, in this series so far, the beam is on its side, or horizontally positioned. So the second condition that there is also the convenience of a horizon seems to naturally follow. Thirdly, there is the postulation of a structure, whether being physical or psychological, which exists somewhere between the core of the earth and the stars. It is with the latter hypotheses, that I wish to explore the dualistic dialogues invoked by the I-beams surface materiality: the determination of what is below becomes the above, and the above is representative of what is below. It becomes a transcendental landscape where a discourse between the ego and superego, the conscious and subconscious, the repressed and expressed can be explored.

Mark Knutson