Client: US Embassy Rabat, State Department
Location: Rabat, Morocco
Completion date: 2014
Siemon Allen Studio
Rigging + Install
Methods and Materials
Pattern Flow was commissioned by the U.S. Department of State’s Art in Embassies (AIE) for the new U.S. Embassy in Rabat, Morocco. The suspended lightweight semi-transparent sculpture was designed and built as a configuration of topographic planes to create a translucent, enigmatic landscape hovering and flowing within the entryway atrium space.
The work alludes to local architectural motifs echoing the effect of light on stucco and the views created by the sculpture also evoke those of shutters used to screen sunlight. From various positions in the space the planes shift with changing perspectives, sometimes offering views ‘through’ the panels not unlike slats in a blind. The abstract form with natural references also engages the Islamic aesthetic tradition of patterning.
The sculpture is suspended by the use of a grid of lightweight stainless steel cables that echo the grid pattern in sculptural form. These vertical lines are perpendicular to the horizontal planes of the sculpture and operate aesthetically to echo the horizontal and vertical lines within the building’s architecture and the colorful grid mosaic of the entryway space. Also, the grid pattern visible on the sculpture frame as seen through the semi-transparent skin resonates with this implicit geometry.
The use of semi-transparent shade cloth allows for a rich overlap of layers. Though the planes that configure to create the topographic-like form are stacked, they are visible one through another. The structure of the white frame behaves like a kind of drawing in space visible through the shade cloth membrane. This visibility of the frame through the semi-transparent shade-cloth allows for a subtle grid pattern ‘drawn’ within the panels.
The sculpture is an abstract form, meant to operate as part of the architectural space with flat shapes accumulated to make complex three-dimensional forms. The sculpture resembles an undulating topographic map of an imaginary landscape. The patterns visible within that landscape are the map of the built environment of a cityscape. It is a long view of the landscape seen through the close view of the horizontal and vertical patterns of the city.
As a site-specific work, the sculpture is integral with its architectural setting, and was designed, built, and sited to converse with the spatial particulars of the atrium space, engaging viewers from all vantage points including those from the entryway doors and on the lower floor, as well as from the walkways in the upper floors. The work is meant to contribute to humanizing what is a high security building, providing those who use the space with a sense of humanity and connectedness. Pattern Flow is a sculpture operating not only as a complex, three-dimensional landscape model floating within the building’s tall, expansive main entrance, but also as a portal into an infinite open space beyond.