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Monday, May 02, 2016

Manus x Machina

Here's a quick tour through the Metropolitan Museum of Art's Costume Institute's "Manus x Machina" exhibition that opens to the public on May 5th. While the treat for most people will be taking in the fashion on display, which veers between the handmade (Manus) to the computer-made (Machina), my photographs from today's press preview focus on the exhibition design by OMA's New York office.

The exhibition, located on two levels in the Met's Robert Lehman Wing, is reached via the Medieval Sculpture Hall, which OMA partner Shohei Shigematsu described as having a "church-like atmosphere":
Manus x Machina

Following the long strip of carpet, one comes to an arched opening signaling the exhibition, "Manus x Machina: Fashion in an Age of Technology":
Manus x Machina

There are three choices after walking through the opening: 1) Turn left or right to follow the corridors and look at niches filled with dresses:
Manus x Machina

2) Go downstairs to the lower level, where most of the dresses are found, or 3) walk straight ahead to look at the central space with its solitary dress (most people will opt for #3):
Manus x Machina

This central space, what Shigematsu calls a "ghost cathedral" in reference to the Medieval Sculpture Hall, features a brand new, yet temporary floor inserted into the Lehman Wing. In the center of the space sits a wedding dress designed by Karl Lagerfeld with a handmade front and laser-cut train (note the niche visible through the translucent wall):
Manus x Machina

The dome above the dress (below the Wing's blacked-out glass pyramid skylight) features a kaleidoscopic image of the dress's train:
Manus x Machina

Here is a view from a side portal that shows a little bit of the dome above the walls:
Manus x Machina

The walls of the exhibition are made from perforated PVC scrim, a material often used in theater. The scaffolding structure that holds up the scrim panels are revealed through varying degrees of translucency as one moves through the space. Here one of the poch├ęd niches can be seen from behind:
Manus x Machina

More translucent materials and basic support structure is visible when descending to the lower level, the actual level of the Lehman Wing:
Manus x Machina

The steps from above converge at a couple spots on the lower level, where some unique dresses – both handmade and computer-made – are highlighted:
Manus x Machina
Manus x Machina
Manus x Machina

The displays downstairs basically follow the existing layout, except scrims are introduced for continuity:
Manus x Machina

A gallery space where OMA's design intervention is minimal:
Manus x Machina

One of the few fashion details I photographed, a 3D-printed dress (sorry, I failed to note the designer):
Manus x Machina

Lastly, an easy-to-miss detail is OMA's credit line on a wall near the entry upstairs (the text for the main sponsor, Apple, on another wall is harder to miss):
Manus x Machina

3 comments:

  1. That dress is by Iris van Herpen.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks! Other dresses I photographed (but didn't post here) were by her, but I didn't realize that one was too.

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