Dennis McNulty Opening Talk for ‘Space replaced by volume’

Posted by Ian on Apr 21, 2011 in news

Space replaced by volume

A contemporary art exhibition by Dennis McNulty

in the Fribourg Family Atrium at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Brown University
27th April 2011 to 11th May 2011.

Curated by Ian Alden Russell

27 April, 6pm, Room N420, Englander Studio, Granoff Center for the Creative Arts

Bodies in space are the central concern of Space replaced by volume, Dennis McNulty’s forthcoming show at the Granoff Center for the Creative Arts. The sculptural, photographic and video works included here result from McNulty’s research on the modernist architectural commissions of Brown University in Providence, Rhode Island and are a response to the ongoing human occupation of these spaces and their wider socio-cultural contexts.

McNulty was initially intrigued by the modernist enigma of Brown University’s Sciences Library (or SciLi) – a fourteen storey Brutalist superstructure and a notable example of high-rise libraries constructed at US universities from the late 1960s onwards. SciLi towers over the historic architectural district of College Hill, almost otherwordly in its contrast with its surroundings. Desgined by the architects Warner Burns Toan and Lunde in 1971, the Sciences Library is recast here as a monument to the modernist moment when the occupation of space ceased to be only an extraterrestrial concern – when instead of imposing humanity on space, space was imposed on humanity.

Through his research, McNulty uncovered Spaces in space, an article in the November 1969 issue of Progressive Architecture magazine. The article describes Warner Burns Toan and Lunde’s work with Grumman Aerospace Corporation on a design for a manned laboratory satellite – a space station. The collaboration, which occurred alongside the commissioning and design process for the Sciences Library, is described as “one of the most exciting architectural commissions of the present generation”. A series of diagrams, graphs and photographs of models and mock-ups accompany the article, reminiscent of and perhaps indebted to the aesthetics of Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, which was released the previous year in 1968. In fact, Warner Burns Toan and Lunde produced a 20-minute film as part of their research, which is described as “2001 in miniature”.

In Space replaced by volume, the newly constructed Granoff Center for the Creative Arts is used as a site to consider points of contact between science, science fiction, architectural time and the production of certainty. Among the works, all of which have been produced for this show, is the video piece “Billion year old carbon”, which was shot in the stairwell of the Sciences Library. Other works draw on details of the Progressive Architecture article while addressing the materiality and aesthetics of the Sciences Library and the context of its construction.

The title Space replaced by volume refers to an agreed change in terminology during the architectural collaboration between Warner Burns Toan and Lunde and Grumman to avoid confusion between the astronautical engineers and the architects over the meaning of “space”.

Bio:Dennis McNulty is an artist whose practice is concerned with memory, potential and flow. He begins with research, producing works in various media which overlap to suggest possible narratives. McNulty’s extensive exhibition record includes representing Ireland at the São Paulo Bienal and participating in solo and group exhibitions in Ireland, Northern Ireland, France, Canada, Japan, Brazil, Colombia, and the United States. His project Another Construction will be presented at the Irish Museum of Modern Art in May 2011. Recent exhibitions include The Driver and the Passenger, Green On Red, Dublin, Ireland (solo); Seventh Dream of Teenage Heaven, Bureau for Open Culture, Columbus Ohio & Bennington, Vermont; and Harboring Tone and Place, CCS Galleries, Bard College.

McNulty is represented by the Green On Red Gallery, Dublin, Ireland.

More information on Dennis McNulty’s work can be found at:

More information on Ian Alden Russell’s work can be found at:

This project is part of the Imagine Ireland, Culture Ireland’s Year of Irish Arts in America 2011, and is made possible through funding from Brown University’s Creative Arts Council, John Nicholas Brown Center for Publich Humanities and Cultural Heritage and Culture Ireland. Additional support has been given by the staff of the Perry and Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts at Brown University.

Special thanks to Steven Lavallee, Paul Magliocco, Raymond Butti and all the staff of the Brown University Libraries and Archives.