Spatio-Phenomenal Intervention: Sculpting the ephemeral

by Melissa Kit Chow (MDes ’12) and Helena Slosar (MDes ’12)

Spatio-phenomenal intervention (SPI) is work that is known to us through the senses rather than through thought or intuition, occurring and intervening in existing spaces or built into existing architecture. It consists of the work of artists, composers, musicians, and architects who utilize ephemeral media such as light, sound, and air, to create atmospheric, sensory phenomena that enhance attention and direct focus.

SPIs all seek to create a new understanding of a space through the process of purifying the experience of that space. The experience of a space is then activated and internalized within the body of the viewer. Finally, in order for the piece to be complete the participant must consciously register a shift away from ingrained habits of perception.

These works, and other similarly intentioned pieces, come together to form the genre of spatio-phenomenal intervention, regardless of the predominant choice of medium or the creator’s background, be it visual art, music, or design. We are not looking to separate, for instance, light from sound as other historians and curators have generally categorized such work. Rather we are looking to understand them as a genre of pieces in which the shared intention is to engage the body in relation to space through qualities of atmosphere.