19 SEP – 16 DEC 2011
Suyama Space, Seattle, WA
​Graham Foundation 2011 Grantee Project

Suyama Space is nestled in a city known less for light than for its continuous rain and grey skies. In as much as a saguaro is shaped by its environment, Suyama Space is shaped by the Seattle rain and intermittent sunny days. It is a place to observe the history of the city’s inhabitants. Once filled with livestock then re-purposed as a mechanics garage, the current space is all but empty but for the traces of pealing lead paint and splintered wood floor boards. An unexpected pair of skylights fill the void with light, allowing for an architect and a curator to explore the indivisible permutations of the emptiness below.

Although cleared of the previous installation, the emptiness of the gallery remained filled with traces of the historic past as well as the daily routines of the building inhabitants. Noticeably present were the faded letters of a car mechanic’s garage; the smoothness left by the hand of the drywall craftsman; the musty scent of the mail drafting in the wake of the hurried postwoman; and the sharp vibration of a door closing nearby. These observation, along with other prosaic impressions, made from the room’s emptiness formed the basis for creating Buoyancy.

The installation appears simple enough: a continuous reflective plane counter-balanced by the weight of rocks. However, the reflective plane quickly reacts when movements of people circulating beneath disturbs the stillness in the air. Compounding the disturbance, shifts in the barometric reading and humidity content add to the changes in the air. The swell-like undulations visible in the reflective surface directly reflect atmospheric change inherent to the space. Buoyancy explores the constantly present yet often unnoticed changes that constitute the emptiness within our lives.

Max Underwood’s insightful essay “Catching Our Breath” about Buoyancy, adds significant depth and understanding to this project.

Buoyancy is the last of four major collaborative projects by Jay Atherton and Cy Keener.

“Buoyancy: Installation by Jay Atherton and Cy Keener.”
Beneath the Surface, Seattle Design Festival, September 2011