There is an immediate heightening of senses when walking into the Platform Theatre where Julian Harold’s final project, Forward: The Pace Mounts takes place. The audience is invited to walk around, weave through, and inspect the installations while music plays in the background during the ten-minute prelude. This immersive and sensuous experience is an exertion of Julian and his interdisciplinary practice.
When interning in Milan last summer at Andrea Caputo’s studio to curate the M/M (Paris) exhibition, Julian had the opportunity to explore the correlation between architecture and interior design. “I quickly realised how close architecture and scenography are and how you can feed one discipline from the other. The scales are different but the outcome remains the same,” Julian explains.
There is a notable and strong two-dimensional approach to Julian’s three-dimensional work, which reflects on his past. Julian recalls childhood memories of his brother – a graphic designer – taking him to the Graphic Design Festival in Chaumont, France where M/M (Paris) regularly presented works in the early 2000s. He goes on to say, “I grew up in their universe – all the record sleeves they did for Björk – and it was such a dream come true to curate the domestic yet poetic collection they set at Plusdesign Gallery in Milan.”
These graphic influences seem to resurface in the way Julian develops his designs as well. With almost 60% of the show being conceived and directed from an iMac before entering the realm of a rehearsing room, it is not necessarily an artistic or technical preference but rather a testament to familiarity. His three-dimensional installations embed a sense of peculiarity that cannot be achieved without having his initial stages run through a computer first.
After working at Caputo’s studio and curating the M/M (Paris) exhibition, Julian noticed similarities with his own practice as well as his experience studying at Central Saint Martins. The interdisciplinary atmosphere and the collaborative advantages that are present at CSM allow students to go beyond their own practice and reach out to other creatives for a synergic effect. In a nod to this, Forward: The Pace Mounts evidences the melding of choreography, installations, and music within one project. Julian notes, “one course can actually open doors to another one. I think in that sense, my piece celebrates the essence of CSM that I could never have expected from any other art colleges.”
The singularity of Julian’s piece results from a combination of classical music with electronic mastering, dance, digital and print graphic performances, and woodworks. The various elements within the performance are not a gathering of different disciplines but rather a melding of individual parts that reaches a purely aesthetic and visual field. The live-installation is enhanced through choreography but remains largely graphic-based. Challenging the experience of both an exhibition and a theatrical environment, he uses letters as designs and images to generate spaces.
The scenery on stage is as important as the dance and the music. Bringing the architectural notion of an exhibition space into a theatrical one is an interesting challenge. Neither the spatial activity nor the relation someone has to the objects is the same. With Julian’s piece, the auditorium becomes an undefined space where the audience members are invited to enquire the installations as they would in an exhibition before seeing that the stage has been re-used in a purely dance objective.
Words Grace Ahn Images Jelly Luise