A great innovator with language, the poet and art collector Gertrude Stein was fascinated by the deceptive simplicity of words and focused on sound and rhythm rather than sense. By departing from conventional meaning, grammar, and syntax, she attempted to capture “moments of consciousness,” independent of time and memory. She also explored subtleties of space and image by manipulating graphic layout. This hypothetical memorial to her legacy, proposed to be inserted in the courtyard of her historic home at 27 Rue de Fleurus, studies the ability for words to leave the implicit space of the page and construct actual three-dimensional space. Perfectly transparent, non-reflective glass walls are etched with text and bottom-lit so only the words glow. At night, the text would appear to float, independent of material and surface. Poetry immerses the reader in text, and here the viewer is both literally and figuratively enveloped. The interior is large enough for only a few people. The double ellipse, which allows entry while still defining an enclosure, implies constant motion. The vortex echoes both Stein’s poetry and the collage-like conception of space and image in her own salon.

“Act so that there is no use in a center.” —Rooms (1914)