25.47m2 presents the floor plan of a typical Seoul Officetel* suite at 1:1 scale, capturing the full architectural surface dimension within the form of a printed book. Created during the course of Alex Grünenfelder’s 2016 artist residency at the RAT school of ART, the project reproduces the artist’s own residency studio in Jongno and speculates about the production of architectural space and typologies of urban living and working.
Over the course of the book’s 624 pages, the 312 recto pages present the suite’s full floor plan printed in segments sequenced from left to right and front to back. The 312 verso pages show a 1:1 scale photograph of the contents of the corresponding area within the artist’s suite.
In effect, if all the pages were removed from the book they could be assembled in a grid to produce a contiguous floor plan equal in size to the dimensions of the actual apartment. On the reverse side of this floor plan would be a photo showing the entire contents of the suite at actual size.
Philosophically the book investigates the role of text, image and the gaze in creating and prehending space. The floor plan, a graphic sign that serves as the primary document in defining the prospective real estate asset, typically operates at a high degree of formal abstraction. Rendering the plan at 1:1 eliminates the abstraction of scale and materializes the document as an object that physically embodies the surface area it represents, allowing representation and object to become one and the same. Positing the floor plan as an object in its own right, the book literally contains the space it describes.
The photo pages are rendered in a somewhat exaggerated halftone line-screen (an imaging method typical of printed matter prior to the more recent proliferation of randomized stochastic printing processes). The pattern abstracts the image preventing the illusion of transparency to a referent and always drawing attention back to the surface of the printed page and its nature as a construction of ink on paper. Due to the exaggerated coarseness of the half-tone pattern the images will resolve to the eye more easily if the book is placed on the floor and viewed from a standing position, further emphasizing the page surface as a space that exists in relation to the reader’s body.
The form of a bound book inherently fragments this space into pages, preventing the spectator’s eye from grasping a totalizing overview. Instead, the eye must traverse the space in a narrative fashion, one page at a time, with no view of what lies ahead and only a rapidly fading memory of what has preceded.
In fragmenting the plan into a sequence of equal segments the book affords equal consideration to every point in the space. There is no sightline or focal point. The spectator is confronted with a document that manifests itself as a space which demands an unusual degree of attention—that no square centimetre should go unobserved. In this format the plan claims for itself a depth of presence that very few spaces achieve.
* In South Korea, an officetel (Korean: 오피스텔, a portmanteau of 'office' and 'hotel'), is a multi-purpose building with residential and commercial units. These units are a type of studio apartment or studio flat. An officetel is designed to be a partially self-contained building, such that its occupants can live and work in the same building, minimizing commute time. Because of the convenience of having daily routines located in one building, a significant proportion of the officetel's inhabitants include lawyers, accountants, professors, and artists.
Since the Asian financial crisis of 1997, the construction of officetels has increased rapidly due to governmental deregulations, and they now constitute a substantial portion of the housing market in the Seoul Metropolitan Area.