nothing disappears completely

  • role:
  • location:
    columbia, south america

A design proposal, essentially a monumental optical instrument, carved into the side of a mountain in Columbia, South America. Somewhere between astronomical observatory and epic cinema theatre, the form and function of this design is finely tuned to a rare total solar eclipse.

notes on the design

Part of the intention with this project is to explore the periphery of our vision. This encompasses not just our field of view, but also the limits of luminescent perception, ideas of pure white and absolute black and our ability to project image, as well as receive. 

Part of the intention with this project is to bring into close relationship the scales at which light affects us; on one hand, the sun illuminates over half our planet with a blinding 90,000 lux from 149,600,000,000 metres, whereas the human eye can adapt to use just 1 lux of light, as from the full moon close to the equator.

“We three [Turrell, Irwin, and Wortz] are becoming intranauts exploring inner space instead of outer space” [Turrell, 1969]

Turrell’s ‘intranauts’ are analogous with the introspective nature of this design project. In one sense the film Solaris is about our perception of illusion, seeing things we can’t easily explain. And so my design tries to work on a level of consciousness with the viewer, or, intranaut. With this intended inward engagement, it then becomes the intranaut, and their ‘seeing’ that provides the narrative in the architectural representation. 

“How would the painter or poet express anything other than his encounter with the world?”  [Maurice Merleau-Ponty] 

“…How could an architect do otherwise, we might ask with equal justification”  [Juhani Pallasmaa]

The methodology employed for this design was initially guided by a series of intuitive decisions. The methodology involves a particular interchange between intuition and logic – mirrored in this design by the consideration of atmosphere and measurement. 

In these spaces, the ‘feel’ of lighting in a place is coupled with its existence as a plot device. The mood of a scene is cross-referenced with an aspect of the human condition; like perception, illusion or dark adaptation. In part, the concept of an atmospheric and obscure design is a result of my interests in representation, and “the mytho-poetic basis of architecture.” 

“At the turn of the millennium, the great challenge for architects is the re-sensualization, re-mythologization, and re-poetization”

Drawing and research, I have found, can come to represent each other. As part of the Solaris Project, and to experiment with modes of representation, I have worked towards producing a series of etching prints. The prints and their plates, illustrate those illusionary phenomenon of light which form a significant portion of my research. Collectively, I will refer to these prints are the Solaris Plates. 

The etching process lent both a particular representational aesthetic and a framework for developing the design.



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