This project is presented in my visual essay:
E. Suess “Projective Views” in Sparke, P., Brown, P., Lara-Betancourt, P., Lee, G., Taylor, M (eds) Flow: Interior, Landscape and Architecture in the Era of Liquid Modernity, Bloomsbury, London, 2018

This project consists of a series of connected spatiotemporal artworks, commencing with the Projective Views installation designed for the Wunderlich Gallery, Melbourne, for the FLOW2 conference in 2012.

Figure1_6 Windows
Figure 1: Six windows, three countries

The Wunderlich installation comprised several film projections showing a series of views through windows from a number of international locations [Figure 1]. The locations, in London, northern Italy, Perth and New South Wales, are homes of friends and family. These are places that I regularly dwell; the views thorough these windows familiar to me. The footage was projected onto the gallery panels positioned in front of the room’s long row of windows, and on the opposite wall, transposing new virtual ‘windows’ onto these other, distant exterior spaces [Figures 2-4]. The projected window together with the interior space of the gallery, and the real window with a view to the local exterior of the gallery building, collectively formed a new spatial condition for the duration of the projection (Le Grice 2001). The resulting piece is therefore both observational (through its use of recordings of existing conditions) and propositional, though the creation of a new hybrid experiential space, formed of both projected and material space.

Figures 2-4: Projective Views, installation in the Wunderlich Galley, Melbourne

Unable to attend the Melbourne exhibition in person, my only access to the completed work was via photographic documentation. As a development of the now dismantled installation, I undertook a ‘reconstruction’ of the piece through the creation of a physical architectural model of the gallery, using a miniature data projector to project the filmed windows. This reconstruction was based on photographs (supplied by others)[1] of the space before and during the exhibition and the CAD drawings of the gallery. The model was constructed from paper and card, at a scale of 1:33;[2] sufficient to obtain the necessary amount of detail, and to be able to accommodate the data projector. As the model was constructed and photographed in my London studio, the ‘real’ exterior seen through the window[3] is different to that of the actual gallery in Melbourne, but as the reconstruction is an easily transported model this ‘exterior’ can change, unlike that of the original exhibition and gallery. From this reconstruction a series of ‘documentary’ photographs were produced [Figures 5-10], constituting secondary documentation of the original installation, but also resulting in a new piece of work. It also enabled recordings of the installation at different diurnal conditions, particularly the shift from day to night, when the ‘real’ (model) window becomes a black pane, rather than an aperture into another space. The reconstructed installation was also filmed, thereby generating the time-based footage missing from the original installation documentation. This will support the production of a third work – an artists’ film which can explore the temporal qualities of the installation.

Figures 5-10: Projective Views, model photograph

This development of the original Projective Views installation into new work is a continuation of my artists’ film and architectural installation practice. Elsewhere I have outlined the trajectory of my practice (Suess 2014), which, from my grounding in both art and architectural practice, resides in a ‘third space’ (Grosz 2001: xv) between the disciplines of artists’ film and architectural representation. This transdisciplinary[4] practice has consistently dealt with architectural issues, and as both artist and architect I work from within the subject of architecture, acknowledging Jane Rendell’s positioning of architecture as subject as well as discipline (Rendell 2004: 143).

One aspect of my practice is focused on the creation of digital films using architectural models, particularly reconstructions of architectural installations. As Buskirk, Jones, and Jones (2013) explain, the terms ‘reconstruct’, ‘re-create’, and ‘refabricate’ imply a connection to an original work of art, but also involve a process of translation and creation of new work. The original installations are normally ephemeral, no longer existing[5] except through the photographic and textual documentation – echoes of the original artwork. The reconstruction ‘remakes’ the space, and unlike a digital reconstruction, it is a physical space, albeit at a reduced scale. This new space can be ‘experienced’ through a primary interaction with the model itself, and through the secondary experience of viewing photographs and films taken from within the model. Photographic and filmed imagery allows a view from inside the model, as the body of the camera can be accommodated in these compressed spaces.

As the models are made to be photographed and filmed, rather than exhibited, only I, as the artist, has access to the primary experience of the model. Due to its reduced scale my body cannot enter the space itself, only peer in through cut-away walls and ceilings. Film theorist Vivian Sobchack (1992) introduces the notion of the ‘film’s body’, which she asserts spans from camera to projector and screen, providing the film a holistic material and spatial presence. This ‘body’ has separate relationships with the filmmaker behind the camera, the spectator[6] in front of the screen, and the material world which all inhabit. For the filming of architectural models, using a miniature camera, Sobchack’s assertion of the relationship between filmmaker, camera, and material world takes a different turn. As the filmmaker cannot inhabit the same space as the camera, Sobchack’s ‘embodiment relation’ (Sobchack 1992: 183) between the body of the filmmaker and the body of the camera is diluted. In the space of the model the camera has a scale similar to that of a human body, and it is therefore the camera’s body alone that occupies the scaled down space of the model. If the camera has the facility to show its view on a separate screen (such as on a smartphone, tablet or computer) then the filmmaker’s relationship to the image, as it is filmed, is closer to that of Sobchack’s spectator than filmmaker.

Filming allows a new form of ‘experience’ of the ‘original’ artwork where no time-based documentation of that original exists. Architectural installations are designed to be experienced by a living, moving body, over a period of time – a film of a scaled model reconstruction of the installation, while not simulating the actual bodily experience of that original space, generates a parallel, analogous experience in the active viewer of the film. The making of a film of the scaled model reconstruction also constitutes the production of new work.

These multiple versions of the Projective Views installation question where the artwork and/or architecture resides. Is it in the experience of the space and time of the original installation in Melbourne; in the photographs of the original installation; in the artifact of the scaled model reconstruction with its miniature projection; in the photographs and film of the reconstruction; or in the experience of the viewing of the new film? Or is it in the critical dialogue that surrounds the work, such as in this chapter, of the same name? Perhaps both artwork and architecture reside in all of these.


References

  • Bremner, C., and P. Rodgers. (2013), ‘Design Without Discipline’, Design Issues, 29 (3): 4-13, doi: 10.1162/DESI_a_00217.
  • Buskirk, M., A. Jones, and C. A. Jones. (2013), ‘The Year in “Re-“‘, Artforum International, 52 (4): 127.
  • Evans, R. (1989), ‘Architectural Projection’, in E. Blau and E. Kaufman (eds) Architecture and its Image, Montreal: Centre Canadien d’Architecture.
  • Gidal, P. (1976), ‘Theory and Definition of Structural/Materialist Film’, in P. Gidal (ed) Structural Film Anthology, 1-21, London: British Film Institute.
  • Grosz, E. (2001), Architecture from the Outside: Essays on Virtual and Real Space, Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
  • Le Grice, M. (2001), ‘Real TIME/SPACE [1972]’, in Experimental Cinema in the Digital Age, 155-163, London: British Film Institute.
  • Rendell, J. (2004), ‘Architectural Research and Disciplinarity’, arq: Architectural Research Quarterly, 8 (02): 141-147, doi: doi:10.1017/S135913550400017X.
  • Sobchack, V. C. (1992), The Address of the Eye: A Phenomenology of Film Experience, Princeton, N.J.; Oxford: Princeton University Press.
  • Suess, E. (2014), ‘Doors Don’t Slam: Time-Based Architectural Representation’, in D. Maudlin and M. Vellinga (eds) Consuming Architecture: on the Occupation, Appropriation and Interpretation of Buildings, 243-259, Abingdon, Oxon: Routledge.

[1] At no point was I able to visit the space of the installation, and therefore this space was always, for me, only ever constructed within my imagination. The gallery space has since been demolished, with a new gallery in a new building in its place.

[2] 1:33 is not a standard architectural scale, but the nearest architectural scales would have been too large to construct in the space available, or too small to allow enough detail. 1:33 is a scale commonly used for model aircraft, and fitted the miniature projector perfectly.

[3] Unlike the exterior in the original installation documentation, the model’s ‘exterior’ is only hinted at, consisting merely of blurred images of Australian trees and shrubs, planted within a London garden.

[4] Bremner and Rodgers define interdisciplinary practice as that which has a primary, as well as a secondary, discipline, as opposed to transdisciplinarity in which no single discipline is primary, enabling practitioners to “work in and contribute to both [disciplines] and generate unique conceptions and artifacts as a result of an emergent transdisciplinary perspective” (Bremner and Rodgers 2013: 11).

[5] For the Wunderlitch piece the space the site itself has also been ‘unmade’.

[6] Spectator is the term Sobchack uses, but is a term that I find too passive for the very active role of the viewer. It also implies that the spectator is witnessing a spectacle, which in films about the everyday, they are not.