Exercise 24: Sunspark 35 Utah / PROFORMA Module

Director: Sergio Prego

Venue: Proforma Module / Proforma Studio

The inflatable pneumatic structure PROFORMA Module was inspired by an image included in a project to build a pneumatic roof for a shopping centre. The roof was a large closed membrane, designed to provide access to its interior, in such a way that it could be cleaned without the building’s users witnessing the operation. This interior with two symmetric curved surfaces as floor and ceiling was a by-product of the design, though the architect himself considered it the most interesting aspect of the entire project.

This exercise suggests experiencing the insides of the PROFORMA Module structure. Building the pneumatic structure requires a production effort on such a huge scale that it leaves no room for gradual developments, but instead demands a single event capable of generating the entire gesture. In this sense, it links up with projects carried out with inflatables in the 1960s, which were interesting precisely because they were half way between a major risk and a shambles. Furthermore, the fact that a gesture of this kind is carried out in an institutional context implies the danger of cancelling its experimental potential – a danger we shall try to avoid.


Sunspark 35 Utah is an inflatable project I developed that is not currently at the museum. It was originally intended as an instant inflatable form generated from a single flat sheet of plastic. It was soldered with no incisions into the surface, and once inflated it became an organic form that, in its irregularity, expressed the scarcity of means employed in its production. In the course of our work on the piece, we encountered a number of variables that seemed to deserve further development in order to explore their effects. If we fold the edges of a square or rectangle before inflating it, the shape of each fold results in different curved lengthwise creases. This process demanded working on a small scale in order to explore a range of variables. The relationship between these variables would ultimately highlight the process’ inherently experimental nature.

The current exercise will draw on the documentation on both the spatial experience explored in the PROFORMA Module and on the development of Sunspark 35 Utah. The aim is to draw conclusions regarding the varying techniques applied in two unrelated pieces.

The context for this investigation could be provided by Joan Jonas’ video Song Delay. What is compelling about the action in this video is that it appears so minute vis-à-vis the immensity of its setting, as if what she is doing could barely pierce a tiny hole for sound to permeate the solid surface of reality. In another version of this action we see Jonas on a river barge that could well be a pleasure boat. However, the viewer sees a tear on the surface of a scene that is otherwise entirely conventional. This happens on a scale that is insignificant as compared to the surrounding reality, but paradoxically that is what makes it relevant.










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