Bürolandschaft, the Substance of Shadows
“...all over the place, from the popular culture to the propaganda system, there is constant pressure to make people feel that they are helpless, that the only role they can have is to ratify decisions and consume.”- Noam Chomsky

Artifact #1 The Executive Grotto

Artifact #1 The Executive Grotto
By Andrew Cornell Robinson
Silkscreen, wood, acrylic, graphite, 2014-2015, variable dimensions

A sea of office cubicles speaks volumes about modern life. The typical open-plan office of the first half of the 20th century contained long rows of desks occupied by clerks in a white-collar assembly line. Its origin stems in part from post war Germany, where Quickborner, a design consultancy, broke up the rows of desks into organic groupings with partitions for privacy—what it called the Bürolandschaft, or “office landscape” system.1 This system of guidelines for office planning was intended to create an open egalitarian space to improve worker productivity, break down hierarchies and increase collaboration. Perhaps it was a reaction against fascism’s totalitarian control and compliance.

After spending several years working in corporate environments filled with cubicle partitions of every shape and configuration Robinson decided to create a sculptural response by proposing a design brief that calls for him to break each of the Bürolandschaft guidelines. The result is a modular cubicle partition system that is rigid and 30% too small. One side is filled with silkscreened images of Robinson’s sneering, snarling and howling face. The other side of each panel is covered in a wash of a tinted acrylic color based on his memory of the paint on the walls of his elementary school.

1. The Origin of Cubicles and the Open-Plan Office, By George Musser, Scientific American, August 17, 2009

The maquette rough draft of the executive grotto Bürolandschaft. Initially this project was concieved as a reflection on the various cubical office systems that I have worked in. In my research of the origins of the office cubical, I came across the Bürolandschaft or office landscape guidelines for office planing. Working with Richard Darlington, my summer intern, a student of product design, together we looked at the guidelines and principles for Bürolandschaft and created several models each one intended to break the rules or guidelines for good office landscaping. Ironically it led us to a all to familiar form of the office cubical.



Disobedient Objects

Disobedient objects will be created including artifacts, props and heirlooms, stolen office supplies, house wares, toiletries, clothing, an over coat for shop lifting, a desk set, trophies, etc.

Artifact #2: Pencil Sharpener

Artifact #3: Table Stack I

more to come...


Project Notes: The Substance of Shadows

The Substance of the Shadow explores craft thinking and making through a historical fiction about two radical figures based on a composite of characters from Charles Dickens’ novels and figures from the French Revolution, Jean-Paul Marat and Charlotte Corday. Using these personae I will create a character study, storyboard and drawings that will be used to engage collaborations with a fashion designer, a musician, a photographer, a product designer, and my work as a sculpture and ceramist. From these engagements I will create a series of costumes, artifacts, objects, images, and heirlooms for these personae, and combine these elements into an exhibition, performance / installation that will be documented on video and photography and generate a series of documentation artifacts including music, video, and digital platforms.


In this project I make use of a personae derived and adapted from both the Jungian notion of a persona as well as the tool of a design persona. In the design and business world, archetypes are often created to anticipate the types of customer segments and behaviors that need to be provided for.  I will use this strategy to generate a series of narratives and personae inspired by radical or transgressive characters from literature and history. I then imagine how these personae might respond when placed into the context of a sculptural space inspired by contradicting the guidelines of the Bürolandschaft. This step in the process allows me to use research and narrative to inform the types of images and objects that I create.  The personae act as a departure point for an exploration of human emotion and systems of power, representative of visual and emotional moments of tension and transgression within our inner masked selves and exhibited through our actions in private and public life; expressed through drawing and sculpture.

per·so·na /pərˈsōnə/ Noun 

1. The aspect of someone's character that is presented to, or perceived by others. A role or character adopted by an author or an actor. 

2. In Jungian psychology the persona operates as a mechanism that conceals a person's true thoughts and feelings in thier adaptation to the outside world. 

3. In design and marketing, personas are fictional characters representative of user types within a targeted demographic. Marketers use personas for considering the goals, desires, and limitations of their target customers in order to help indoctrinate beliefs and ideas, guide behaviors and decisions about services, products and systems. They are presented in descriptions that include behavior patterns, goals, skills, attitudes, and environment.


Persona: John

A composite of multiple people, radicals, disenchanted, restless loosely inspired by Jean-Paul Marat, aka L'Ami du peuple (Friend of the People). According to some historical texts he is described as being deformed in person, and hideous in face. He was of short stature, scarcely five feet high.  He was nevertheless of a firm, thick-set figure, without being stout.  The shoulders and chest were broad, the legs bowed, the arms strong, which he employed with much vigour and grace in speaking.  Upon a rather short neck he carried a head of very pronounced character.  His countenance was large and bony, the nose aquiline, the nostrils wide and somewhat depressed; the mouth was curled at one corner by a frequent contraction; the lips were thin; the eyes of a hazel colour, animated, penetrating, serene, conveying a look of great assurance. 

His most usual attitude was with his arms firmly crossed upon his chest. He always appeared much agitated, and almost invariable ended the expression of a sentiment by a movemnt of his foot, which he thrust rapidly forward, stamping with it at the same time on the ground, and then rising on tiptoe, as though to life his short stature to the height of his opinion.

A defect of the tongue rendered it difficult for him to pronounce clearly the letters c and s.

He dresses in a careless manner; indeed, his negligence in this particular announced a complete ignorance of the conventionalities of custom and of taste, and one might almost say gave him an air of uncleanliness.

physician, philosopher, scientist, political activist

His skin disease was intensely itchy, blistering, began in the perianal region, and was associated with weight loss leading to emaciation. He was sick with it for the three years prior to his assassination, and spent most of this time in his bathtub. There were various minerals and medicines that were present in his bath while he soaked to help ease the pain caused by his debilitating skin disease. The bandana that is seen wrapped around his head was soaked in vinegar to reduce the severity of his discomfort. The condition is extremely itchy, and the desire to scratch can be overwhelming.


Persona: Charlotte / Havisham

A composite of multiple people, inspired loosley by Charlotte Corday, Marat's assassin and Miss. Havisham, a character from the novel Great Expectations by Charles Dickens.







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