allegory of architecture_
make an image of our aesthetics in their intoxication and want of intoxication. now see human beings as though they are prisoners, confined to a cave, with a long entrance that reveals only a glimpse of light from outside. imagine these people are exposed only to the saturated images of a contemporary city; a city that is masked by the depthless obsession of appearance. this is an obsession where there is no feeling, no reveal, no experience; everything is reduced to the surface for the purpose of seduction. and if seduction is a purely visual enchantment that prevents any deeper level of inquiry, has architecture lost its sense of reality?
now consider, one of these human beings confined to the cave,is told of an architecture that relates us to our own being as it projects meaning about its design and its architectural moments. he is told that architecture can become an experience beyond a visual gaze in which we experience both the spaces and ourselves as transcendent beings. it is no surprise, the prisoner will not believe something can evoke such emotion from within him. it is true to him, that architecture is but an image. and it is no surprise he does not see the spaces that fall behind the image, for the over saturation distorts his sense of depth, therefore he has forgotten it exists. what then if he was dragged up the long entrance of the cave and thrown out, into the light?
among this new architecture that looks to evoke emotion, the prisoner’s eyes would be unable to make out forms at first, but slowly as his eyes begin to adjust to the light he is confronted with an architecture in which he has never noticed. and as this man becomes accustomed to the light, he slowly moves through the spaces, each turn revealing a new architectural detail, each space evoking a new emotion, views are given, residual spaces offer interaction, materials create new textures and an architectural experience is created.
the first space he encounters is that of complete seclusion. for a short moment he loses his sense of direction, consumed entirely by a sense of privacy within such openness. his eyes have just about adjusted to the light as he slips into an adjacent space. it is at this moment where the man experiences his first ecstasy. he is forced into an environment much the opposite of the last. there is an abundance of people, some quickly passing by in an orderly freedom as most others are scattered throughout the space indulging in various activities. as one may assume, this space is overwhelming for a man of the architectural cave to be thrust into. hesitantly, he moves into the pedestrian flow towards the threshold on the far end of the space. imagine his reaction as he finds himself back in another quiet space, nothing as tranquil as the first, but a relief from the second space. as his nerves calm, he is drawn to the extremities of the space where he becomes engulfed by embarrassment. he is looking into the first space, there his feeling of utmost seclusion and privacy was possibly being watched. what did he look like? what was he doing? he scours his brain for answers but can’t seem to remember. not surprising, the spatial experience had overtaken him for those brief moments. accepting his defeat to the space, the man exits the last space and finds himself standing above the cave’s entrance.
suppose he then returns to the cave to share his knowledge with the rest of the prisoners. what will they say? this man can now see ten thousand times better than the people of the cave because of his new heightened awareness and among the abundance of peripheral information he has experienced architecture beyond its visual mask. is that not finding truth?
the prisoner now recognizes this persuasion as it is presented to him within his cave and its pursuit to appear as the best; a perversion of the truth that relies on the seduction of the image. and what now of every building that has compete to be the newest, the biggest, the most sustainable in the city? in this aesthetic pursuit, architecture has turned its back on experience and instead is relying on the image to create the illusion of something that is “real,” has “meaning,” and presents “truth.”
with such an aesthetic fetish, architecture becomes judged and analyzed by its surface appearance, with no attention paid to its deeper meaning. with no appreciation of depth, perspective, or relief, imagery instead promotes a gaze as an anti-analytical tool for viewing architecture. so now imagine this reaction against the image that begins to re-introduce architecture as something that is experienced, analyzed and understood.
my thoughts are about:
form and freedom
movement and restriction
observer and observed
ephemerality and eternity
Information and meaning
image and experience
a series of images that bullet point my narrative….i have full intensions of creating a visual narrative by hand though. I feel a hand drawing conveys a stronger sense of experience than that of found images.
in my preliminary ideas about program and more importantly, circulation, i want to stress the experience of the movement through a series of layered spaces. the importance lies in the procession, not the destination. so through this idea of the modified maze, there are spaces within the maze, both known and discovered. within this maze their are numerous different routes, prompting decisions and allowing for variation. the maze also presents moments of forced circulation along with places of rest. thin circulation routes open into larger spaces that become a relief from the constant movement or just the opposite as you may be thrown back into the chaos of circulation after a moment of seclusion.
looking into an architectural icon as a series of experiences, i formulated a three space sequence. the first space is of absolute seclusion and gives the user a sense of privacy. the second space is an abrupt shift that forces one into an overwhelming moment of organized chaos (although sometimes not so organized). the third space is at first a relief of the busy second space but soon becomes an uncomfortable realization that you were open to observation as you progressed through the seemingly private first space.
as i have been focusing my efforts as a reaction against the contemporary evolution of architecture as an image, i have been interested in the experience and emotion a space can inspire within the individual. as an avid film photographer, i have found similarities between the process of film photography and the emotions in which become prevalent within the spaces of my narrative. i see an interesting relationship between the overall concept of destroying architecture as an image and the movement throughout my building of images. if my site were to remain in times square, i imagine my building as an almost implosion of its context. the form, expression, and circulation remain and highlight the architecture, as the interior layers become home to the image. leaving architecture an experience as the image becomes art.
my newest thoughts on program have expanded from just a photography center to more of an artist’s residence. I see times square’s billboards as studio spaces with depth that show the artistic process as apposed to a flat two-dimentional plane that is the final image. there is something interesting, although difficult, with creating a residence within times square and i find the idea very compelling.
i have broken down the times square billboard into basic shapes of primary colors to represent the billboards in there most basic, pixilated form. these spaces become contrasts to the rest of the square, but still maintain the saturated idea. i see these immediate spaces as becoming studio spaces, able to be seen by the passing masses. these moments will begin to create a pause in traffic, in which people will then begin to break the north-south stream of traffic and move east through my building.