FOG and CONTAMINATION
Fog has essentially the same properties as a cloud, only it occurs at ground level. It is made up of condensed water droplets and it occurs either by cooling the air to the dew point (variable) or by increasing humidity. Fog requires stable environmental conditions like humidity, light wind and cool air. These cause solid particles in the air (aerosols) not to disperse as water needs them in order to condense around them. Also, by definition and to distinguish it from mist, when fog is present visibility is reduced to 1Km.
Ground level does not mean altitude 0. Being ground level usually associated with public dwelling, fog incorporates the concept of "within" as one need to be within it to understand what it is, the same way one need to see clouds above in the sky to understand what they are. In this way, the observer, besides losing visibility also loses the perception of the limits and edges of this phenomenon.
Many, specially in the field of the so called plastic and/or performance arts, have tried to use it artistically or even architecturally by containing it either by creating the container or by searching one in existing architecture. Examples include: Olafur Eliasson with "The weather project" (2003) at the Turbine Hall, Tate Modern London and "The mediated motion" (2001) at the Kunsthaus Bregenz; Antony Gormley with "Blind Light" at The Hayward, London. The later, a room-size glass box filled with dense water vapor and brilliantly diffused light, causes the ones who enter it to "lose all sense of direction. Indeed, a typical first reaction is anxiety, and its nearly impossible to exit without finding a wall thick with condensation and following it back to the entrance. Once outside, a walk around the perimeter reveals a perfect white cube occasionally marked by a handprint from within."
From the observation of these two installations, it becomes clear as some elements must be present in order to fully experience the nature of fog. First, one has to be within it, one must lose oneself. Light plays a big role too, as light generates shadows which in turn are projected through the tiny water droplets as shafts of light are projected through dust - rays of shadow.
Deborah Wilk, in Time Out New York / Issue 633 : November 15, 2007 - November 21, 2007.
Contamination con·tam·i·nate [v. kuhn-tam-uh-neyt; n., adj. kuhn-tam-uh-nit, -neyt] –verb (used with object) 1. to make impure or unsuitable by contact or mixture with something unclean, bad, etc.: to contaminate a lake with sewage. 2. to render harmful or unusable by adding radioactive material to: to contaminate a laboratory. –noun 3. something that contaminates or carries contamination; contaminant. –adjective 4. Obsolete. contaminated.
[Origin: 1375–1425; late ME contaminaten < L contmintus, ptp. of contminre to defile, spoil, equiv. to con- CON- + -tminare, v. deriv. of *tmen something touched < *tag-s-men, equiv. to tag-, var. s. of tangere to touch + -s-men resultative n. suffix; cf. Examen] –Synonyms 1. defile, pollute, taint, infect, poison, corrupt.
This theme carries with it several interpretation which requires some distinctions. The term "contamination" has a vast application in most European languages but often the relationship with its synonym “contagion” is not a clear one – overlapping or maintaining a distinction. Linguistically there can be identified a common Indo-European root for both terms in the word tag, which contains the meaning of "tact", "contact", "transmission" [cf. lat. tactum, contingo etc]. In some European languages, as for instance
contaminación/contagio is very wide; in other European languages, the variety of meanings isnt as great. In their wider versions, the two terms tend to include the meanings of "contact", "transfer", "infection", "epidemics", "transmission", "diffusion", "adulteration", "infestation", "poisoning", "pollution" - the effects of "defiling" or "making foul" -, but also those of "intermixing", "intermingling", "interaction", "hybridization".
This wide array of meanings of the term allows a distinction between different interpretations of the subject: 1. Physical contamination. The most ordinary meaning refering to a vast range of phenomena from infectious diseases to the environmental contamination including the intermixing and hybridization of races or species, sexual genres and identities. 2. Contamination as diffusion and propagation of social behavior including the complex web of forms of transmission which take place in human groups and societies. 3. The transmission of psychic experiences through supposed contagion.
4. Moral contamination in a wide sense. 5. Cultural contamination. Another theoretical implication of this theme is the opposition between the categories of purity and of hybridization, as reflected in the moments of self-awareness and selfidentity of all cultures, when they define themselves in relationship with the "other" cultures. 6. Contamination of forms. One last possibility is that offered by the contamination or hybridization of literary or artistic forms: types of discourses, different genres of representation, etc. Here the term can be applied to all phenomena which disrupt the order of an aesthetic system, intermingling different languages and codes, undermining the integrity of the models handed down from the past. In the field of architecture, movements such as postmodernism have often exploited the possibilities of contamination and hybridization.
Taking the last point further, many forces corrupt what some call "pure architecture" - technology, society, culture, natural and urban environments, the force of architectural tradition – all "contaminate" architecture with their unique demands, often on a global scale. Disciplines, cultures, societies, and knowledge crosscontaminate and interfere with architecture. In studying other fields, architects expand their vocabulary and incorporate new ideas into traditional architecture. If one considers purity as when architecture has full control over an environment - from weather to sound and conditions a space for the health, safety, and welfare of its inhabitants, then it is possible to state that 2
this "sanitization" is unachievable as environments shape and contaminate architecture at all scales. One can choose to accept contamination and integrate it into the design process as to control potential inefficiency and channeling forces toward equilibrium.
In yet another view and oposing urbanity to media its easy to relate to the constant contamination and a certain “impurity” of living environments by “viral” media in the same way as one can observe the infusion of the real that is happening to the disembodied media worlds. Contamination as a concept will vary its meaning according to the field/subject it relates to in a given idea. But even narrowing that field to urbanity – taking out environmental, cultural e social issues - one can also expect it to span across several meanings even if one only takes scale into account. In that sense it is possible to talk about how the pavement contaminates a facade, how a building contaminates
Elizabeth Diller Sanford Kwinter
"The moment of waking reproduces the border or limit conditions. [...] Nothing can explain what is happening, just as nothing could predict it. One world continues indifferently, unmoved and unchanged, while another spills into it, filling all the cracks and chinks between objects with the swirling indefiniteness of a wanton becoming."
A 1910 physics book asks:"If a tree falls in a forest and no animal is around to hear it, does it make a sound?" Interpretations to this philosophical riddle point to the possibility of unperceived existence, the knowledge of the unobserved world and the dissimilarity between sensation and reality. Can something exist without being perceived? Can we assume the unobserved world functions the same as the observed world? What is the difference between what something is, and how it appears? In this way, the discussion regarding observation and knowledge of reality is addressed.
Starting with the assumption that fog carries with it a certain mass and weight the decision to create a landscape which would translate its apparent effect on the ground came as an obvious one. As such, Fog is seen as a â€œgrowth mediumâ€?, an entity with material essence and substance â€“ something one have to be within in order for it to exist. Fog incorporates the concept of "within" as one need to be within it to understand what it is, the same way one need to see clouds above in the sky to understand what they are. In this way, the observer, besides losing visibility also loses the perception of the limits and edges of this phenomenon.
Fog is a medium, a surrounding environment, even if it may seem incorporeal at first. It is, as everything in this real, made out of matter. It is possible to feel it the same way one can see it. It carries with it a sense of mass and weight even if a thin and ethereal one. It's as though it deposits itself. So, what if instead of constraining it one were to hold it like plant roots hold thin soil? What if the space reflected that weightiness? The question becomes another one. What kind of architecture can move through fog? Should it create some king of orientation?
Then, as a way to confront it, the idea of introducing slim vertical elements which appear from the ground as inverted roots piercing the ethereal mass of Fog and holding it in its place came to mind. These vertical elements were to be arranged in a way they would form and shape as some kind of reference. I would see it as a stabilizer, something that would be stuck to the ground and would emerge from it, raising through the fog, holding and cutting it, creating walls of shadow and light.
From this background it was clear that in order for them to function there was an element that would have to be taken into account in the project. That element is empty space, the void in the form of an empty plane.
Sanford Kwinter: Architectures of Time - on Kafta
As a way to condition myself as well as the project itself I decided to take in contrast, or rather the lack of it, as an inherent condition of Fog. Having mass as a quality, the loss of contrast and colour saturation it creates is one of its most clear (optical) effects – being projected shadows and loss of visibility the others. Having identified it, the next step was to rethink the elements described above and also some others in order to diminish that loss of contrast as a way of both confronting the subject and disrupting the order and homogeneity accepted until now. These elements will weaken, contaminate the order as a form of reaching an equilibrium and starting a discussion on purity versus contamination.
The choice falls into two kinds of contaminators – horizontal interceptors and limits. My next investigation was the search for a kind of horizontal element which could be developed and if it should have a function and if so which. At the same time, the same investigation contemplated the creation of some kind of limits.
The discussion on the meeting with the ground as well as the discussion of inside and outside are thereby addressed within the borders of the urban subject and are to be taken underground, contaminating it in the same way a tree house contaminates the top of the tree with culture.
“...the capacity to transcend the mere intention of giving form to an idea, to atempt to encompass the entire universe surrounding (it).”
Sanford Kwinter: Architectures of Time
It was the drawing of an inverted tree which greatly influenced the path the project took. The idea was that inverting the form (and essence) of a tree, its parts would have to be redefined. It is as if the top of the tree becomes the ground we step on, the world. And the roots became a platform, detached from the surroundings even if seemingly continuous with theses. The idea of the void remained. Theres still a plain landscape disturbed only in the center, reflecting the heaviness of fog. A meeting point of all parts. Yet, this landscape is disturbed by clean cut “holes”. These are points of access descending into the middle. But these cuts on the plain are only perceived by the difference of light. That being, in a bright day one would see dark cuts on the ground, and in a foggy evening, if the underground space was lit one would see projections of light in the atmosphere.
"(...)the moments when all virtuality is forced up close to the surface, when everything suddenly is at stake, when something is most likely to "happen" or to go wrong. (...)though these neither explain anything or introduce anything new, somehow effect a fundamental change that radiates outward and contaminates everything, makes everything at once equally indeterminate, unclear, fluid, and above all, connected. These bifurcation points are all the more paradoxical because the world of objects itself need not change in the slightest, only the meaning of the objects and the relations between them."
Sanford Kwinter: Architectures of Time
Sanford Kwinter: Architectures of Time - on Kafta
By meaning, Kwinter states that he takes not in the classical sense, but rather as an expressive capacity that belongs materially to objects like a skin and which groups them together within some larger global element or tissue.
And its there, in that underground space one can feel the heavyness mentioned above. Given the horizontality as well as the 10 meter height of the space one would feel about to be crushed, effectincreased by the single central support. Given its scale, such space can be used as a urban project ocupying an entire city bloc in a densely built environment as a park, for example
"(...)seamingly at an infinite remove from the world, one finds all sensual data - light, vibration, sound, duration 6
become, through interpretation, sources of knowledge. Every surface is now a sensible one (...).
Ricardo Leal • mot en arkitektur • NATUR . KULTUR I • B3 • vår 2008 – AHO 6
Sanford Kwinter: Architectures of Time - on Kafta
Published on Feb 14, 2011
How can the contrast between a natural and a cultural phenomenon create architecture by itself? In this case "Fog" as the natural and "Const...