Thursday, 18 February 2010

Choisy’s Favoured Perspective Hinge

The path from architectural conception to the architectural execution of a built work, is guided predominantly, from the architects perspective, by a wide and diverse range of representative tools. Architects, using 3 dimensional computer visualizations, to detailed CAD plans or the carefully cut section and other modes of spatial communication, transcribe and precisely construct a seemingly clear and scientifically objective representation of the piece of architecture to be realized. Our advancements in technological construction processes and spatiotemporal virtual representation reaffirm with ever increasing precision this assumption of a directly mapped correspondence between drawings and completed built form. However, there exists between all modes of Architectural representation and the reality of which they describe a ‘Perspective Hinge’1.

This Perspective Hinge - the projective tools of architectural representation so often taken for granted as we forget its importance in the path from architectural conception to built form, is a perspective stance and view point indicating current philosophical and scientific advances that have been built upon from the traditions of descriptive geometry.
In our professional careers, the drawing often becomes a slice of a dissected whole, acting as objective, precise and accurate information fit for not much other purpose than a swift translation into built form and the space from which these projections are based is rarely considered.

In looking at the axonometric projections of Auguste Choisy, (the 19th Century French Engineer who documented the structural concepts and principles of great buildings in history) we see wonderful examples of using the perspective hinge to push abstraction and create a representation celebrating the objectivity of precise measurements. In his work ‘the objectified projection rids itself of a gravity bound, embodied, and orientated subject’2 and presents Choisy’s thesis of objective truth.
For me, this use of the perspective hinge to illustrate impossible views, from the worm’s eye particularly always creates a sense of excitement and although the drawings may be considered in one sense a celebration of the objective and the precise, the engaging and at times optically confusing view point draws our attention to the subjective by showing how our act of observing effects the observed.

1 Taken from Alberto Perez Gomez and Louise Pelletier in their fascinating book ‘Architectural Representation and the Perspective Hinge’
2 ibid.

Tuesday, 2 February 2010

The Panoramic Diorama

Whilst browsing through an avant garde high gloss large format international architectural journal, as I occasionally like to do when trying appear sophisticated and high brow on the underground, I actually caught sight of something that completely captivated me. A sudden romantic sense of bohemian reverie arose in me as I gazed into a double page spread depicting a beautifully aged artist’s studio. My eye was immediately drawn into excitedly inspecting the studio’s melancholic sediment, slowly accumulated from years of intense work and habitation of a pensive and prolific painter. I turned the page and again hungrily devoured the visual feast of the next double page spread, this time gorging myself on what I thought to be the artist’s bathroom, gently weathered by moss, house plants and the placid daily routine of a creative soul. I flip backwards to the beginning of the article, intrigued to find out whose house I was peering into. Ronan Jim Sevellec was the artist, there was an image of him standing next to some paint brushes, somewhere I presumed to be in the house I was just looking at. I begin to read the article and to my surprise quickly discover that the romantic panoramic images I had just been studying were in fact photographs of intricate display model dioramas not much bigger than a shoe box! Intriguing and poetic the miniature worlds of Ronan Jim Sevellec demonstrate the wonders of making spaces by making places, coloured by the idiosyncratic movements of an individual, who in this case actually resides in the mind of the artist.