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SEEING THROUGH LIGHT Light as a component of optical devices
















We are standing in front of an era where the anxiety of understanding our surrounding


the effort of “training” our gaze, have given



to a form of scanning. The image has transformed into a kind of show and the eye has started to



and more on an interface rather than imagination. Although, the way we look at things has changed and will keep on changing, the eye still appears to be dominant in the “game” of perception.


EYE VISION For the individual, the eye is both an opening and an organ. It filters the world before “entering” into both consciousness and the body. In contrast with the other senses, the eye constructs a more simultaneous understanding of the surrounding in a non-spatial way. For instance, if we want to gain any spatial perception of an object, using touch, we must move our hand around the object. This drives us to the conclusion that any sense we gain of its position in space or of its form comes over time and the knowledge of what something “looks” like is being build up gradually. The eye with the aid of light imports the images that surround us into the brain through a very delicate mechanism.1 In fact, what the brain does, is decoding illuminated images that are the result of the reflection of light on objects. For Aristotle, we apprehend the world through an agency that doesn’t show itself to us but makes things visible and only then we are able to realize their presence2. We need the presence of light to 1 “Light that reflects off of objects around us is imaged onto the retina by the lens. The retina, which consists of three layers of neurons (photoreceptor, bipolar and ganglion) is responsible for detecting the light from these images and then causing impulses to be sent to the brain along the optic nerve. The brain decodes these images into information that we know as vision”. AE/AEC/CC/vision_background.php 2   “…the eye and the medium (what we know as air) are defined in terms of transparency. Air and water are only actually transparent in the presence of light. Light, not being a body but an activity of the transparent, becomes a necessary condition for vision. Vision is the power to see what is visible…’ T. K. Johansen, Aristotle on Sense – Organs, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 1998, Pp. xvi 304


be able to see. Even when we are not seeing, it is by sight that we discriminate darkness from light. Thus, darkness can be described as a situation within which we can’t see.


SEEING THROUGH LIGHT Light as a component of optical devices In darkness the rest of our senses (except sight) are actuated in order to combine perception, memory and representation. A subconscious mechanism activates memory so as to transform perception into representation. We have to keep in mind, that emotion and the imaginary “intervene” in the procedure and distort the object of perception. The English philosopher John Lock introduces a new dimension in the relationship of light and darkness suggesting that: “…

eye’s self-blindness enables optical vision”1. It seems like almost impossible to refer to either one of them without recalling the other or to draw a line between them. These doubts about their relationship already imply that there something “dark” in light that we fail to grasp; and that in a strange way light includes darkness and the opposite. Maybe this is the reason why both of them excite in such large extent the imaginary and awake the human subconscious. Therefore, in our attempt to break upon light in a more explicit and delicate way we will often refer to darkness and its qualities. What makes light so ambiguous and how we 1  Lock John, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, Great Books, of Western World, Vol.35, Ed. R. M. Hutchins, Chicago, William Benton, 1952, p 87.


perceive the illuminated images of the world that surround us? Since we can’t understand light without invoking images that relate it to vision, we will use two optical devices which manipulate light so as to represent fragments of the world, either these are real or fictional.

CAMERA OBSCURA (dark room) “You enter me through my eyes (whence I spill tears) as a cluster of unripe fruit goes into a bottle and, once past neck, grows where it is wider, so does your imagewhich when outside soak me, grow once it’s inside the eyes, so that I stretch like skin inside of which the pulp is swelling, having entered my by such a narrow route I can hardly dare to believe you’ll ever get out”. 1 Michelangelo In around 1510 Leonardo Da Vinci in his effort to understand the function of the human eye uses an apparatus called camera obscura2 . During the 16th century, Johannes Kepler mounts a cow’s eye into en apparatus and discovers that the eye works exactly like the camera obscura.3 Through this ex1 The poetry of Michelangelo, trans. James M. Saslow, New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991, p. 144. 2 “I say that if the front of a building—or any open piazza or field—which is illuminated by the sun has a dwelling opposite to it, and if, in the front which does not face the sun, you make a small round hole, all the illuminated objects will project their images through that hole and be visible inside the dwelling on the opposite wall which may be made white; and there, in fact, they will be upside down, and if you make similar openings in several places in the same wall you will have the same result from each. Hence the images of the illuminated objects are all everywhere on this wall and all in each minutest part of it. The reason, as we clearly know, is that this hole must admit some light to the said dwelling, and the light admitted by it is derived from one or many luminous bodies. If these bodies are of various colours and shapes the rays forming the images are of various colours and shapes, and so will the representations be on the wall”., Taken from The Notebooks of Leonardo Da Vinci, edited by Jean Paul Richter, 1880, vol.3, p. 15-23. 3 David C. Lindberg, The Genesis of Kepler’s Theory of Light: Light Metaphysics from Plotinus to Kepler, Osiris 2nd series 2, (1986), p. 5-42.


periment, Kepler found a way to enter the eye and to understand its function; he managed to see what his eye was seeing. This was one of the reasons, why during the seventeenth and eighteenth century, camera obscura was the most widely used device for explaining human vision and for representing the relation between the viewer and an object of the external world. In both the cases of Leonardo Da Vinci and Michelangelo the image’s trail from “an outside to an inside” is made

through a very narrow opening; a small hole on the wall and the human eye. These two openings are leading the image into the apparatus in the first case and the subconscious in the second. During this procedure, a physical and a mental space are turned to hosts not only for the image’s representation but for the light itself. In this context someone could imagine the light rays penetrating the eye and the apparatus and projecting the image into a dark space. In both cases, the existence of darkness seems to be an essential convention. Thus, darkness is converted to the perfect canvas for the consignation of the image. Michelangelo in the last two lines of his poem is adding one more very important detail so as to explain what happens after the image goes through the eyes. He argues that, once the image is inside our mind, it is almost impossible to get it out. This “capture” of the image was also the reason for the invention of the camera obscura; to “constrain” the image of a landscape and to bring it in such a scale so as to be depicted in all its detail. Hence, light has the power to transfer the image to a dark place where it can’t


“escape” and it is well kept. At the same time that the visual world is revealed to us and its images are grasped and kept, there is something that keeps light from being overtaken from sight or reason. In this moment of revelation there is a simultaneous retreat of light into non-visibility. There is something ambiguous in it that we “elude” in our attempt to fully understand it. What we are almost sure that we comprehend about light is the following: Firstly, light can’t be weighted nor proportioned in an easy and tangible way but one of its most important attributes is that brings things in a conceivable scale. Secondly, if we look the sun with bare eyes will we be blinded. If we look back, once more, to the two examples of Da Vinci and




prism of these special features of light, we would say that in both of them, light “plays the part” of a very “intelligent trap” of images and consequently of what stands around us. What makes this “trap” so “intelligent” is the fact that it can’t be seen. Although the light rays transfer the image to our eyes while keeping themselves out of sight, they manage to captivate the “prey” (image) and make it visible. This invisible element has the ability to touch the eye and bring closer the things in a distance, to fit them in the mind. As soon as the brain receives an image through its representation, the rest of the senses are activated. Either the desire to touch, hear


or smell what we see is triggered off, or the memory of what we see, feels like or smells like is awaked. In both cases, the whole procedure of the perception is transformed into a corporeal experience, where all are senses are activated.


VIEW-MASTER1 Through its operation, the view-master is letting us into a type of optical illusion2 that on the one hand doesn’t refer only to what we see, but also in the way we see and on the other hand breaks the bonds between the representation and the real object. In the case of the view-master, what is revealed before us has to do with a kind of deceit. The eyes are “fooled” to “believe” that they see the same thing, but in reality they see a slightly different one. In comparison with the camera obscura, the viewer from an observer is transformed to a spectator who is gazing a se1 The view-master is a device for viewing 3-D images (also known as stereo images) on a paper disk. It was invented by William Gruber, who had the idea of updating the old-fashioned stereoscope by using the new Kodachrome colour film that had recently become available. While a View-Master reel holds 14 film slides, there are really only seven stereoscopic images; two film slides are viewed simultaneously one for each eye - thus simulating binocular depth perception. http://en.wikipedia. org/wiki/ViewMaster 2 Optical Illusion: An optical illusion is always characterized by visual perceived images that, at least in common sense terms, are deceptive or misleading. Therefore, the information gathered by the eye is processed by the brain to give, on the face of it, a percept that does not tally with a physical measurement of the stimulus source. A conventional assumption is that there are physiological illusions that occur naturally and cognitive illusions that can be demonstrated by specific visual tricks that say something more basic about how human perceptual system work. They trick your eye to make it seem like there is no illusion sometimes. ( optical-illusion?cat=techology)


quence of images. The purpose, of the representation is transformed from understanding the way we perceive the world, to spectacle. The image is deprived of its origin because the identification with the original is no longer necessary of important. Thus, the image in view-master could be characterized as an object presented only for the pleasure and satisfaction of the eyes and therefore, the production of effects for the brain is made without the need of any material reality behind it. The aim is to create an atmosphere capable of transferring the viewer to places that he can’t be physically. Because the spectator is unable to see his position as part of the scenery presented, the image has to look so vivid and “real” that it would be able to place the person in it, mentally. It must awake the desire of entering the scene he is gazing at and that somebody else prescribed for him. What is the role of light in this game of storytelling that “seduces” the brain? The first step is to understand how light becomes a functional part of the device. Light drives through the device by a defined and restricted path, by following a linear route goes through the small windows in the front and thereafter meets the middle reel. In each movement of the lever, that is adjunct to the reel and just for a second, light is blocked and the eyes are “immersed” into darkness. This mechanical movement of the lever brings in our minds the blinking of the eyes. The lever can be compared to the eyes’ muscles that control the opening and closing of the eyelids so as to keep the eyes from drying out and protect them from irritations. In the case of the view-master the physical movement of the muscles is replaced by a mechanical one. A dark pause interrupts the sequence of the narration in order to pass from one scene to the other. This mode of narration is placing the view-master somewhere between the book and the movie film. It includes, at the same time, the delay of the


turning of the pages in a book and the directness of the images’ continuity of a film. After this short pause, the eyes are “struck” once again by the illuminated image. Imitating the paintings in diorama, the pictures in each slide filter light and depending from the transparency of each colour that composes it, obtains a three dimensional effect that makes it seem more vivid and closer to “real”. Vividness is also increased by the apparent proximity of the object to the viewer. The desired effect is the maximum focus of the viewer’s sight and through this, the immediate, the apparent tangibility, which is constructed solely through an organization of the optical. The image is almost inside the eyes and the eyes are bound to look nothing else but the bright pictures. In this way, the tactile is subsumed in the optical and the viewer tries to “possess” the objects presented through a single sense; vision. Thence, vision acquires analogies to the sense of touch. This is the reason why the stereoscope, which is considered as the ancestor of the viewmaster, became increasingly synonymous with pornographic imagery in the course of the nineteenth century.3 Thus, in view-master, light is used as an instrument for seducing the eye and generating illusions. Its role is to make fiction as real as possible, in order to provoke enjoyment and to activate the imaginary. If we were to compare light’s nature, in this case, with that in camera obscura, we would note that from an agent for interpreting the world was turned into an agent for producing narrations about things that the eye had never seen in their real form and the body never had experienced. At this point, we can discern that light is related to the desire of seeing what escapes our sight either because is so distant that becomes invisible or because never existed as real. 3 Jonathan Crary, Techniques of the Observer – On Vision and Modernity in the Nineteenth Century, MIT Press, 1992, p. 127


THE LIGHT OF DISCLOSURE AND CONCEALMENT Hans Jonas, in his essay The Nobility of Sight, through a phenomenological explication of the relationship between vision and thought, demonstrates the way that the mind goes where vision points. Consequently, in perception the eye and the mind are so closely linked that sometimes the mind can be fooled or mislead by vision. The mind enters this game of illusions either because it “wants to be fooled” or because it “doesn’t realize” that is fooled. The image can be so seductive for the brain that can irritate the unconscious by provoking the imaginary and therefore lead the conscious into seeing the world under a new, deformed perspective. Under those circumstances, light can be the agent that produces these deformations and alternations, by concealing or disclosing things from our sight; it has the power to produce space and shape it. Louis Kahn commends, “…I sense Light as the giver of all presences and material as spent Light.”1 Hence, architecture can be seen as a device that manipulates light in order to create atmospheres in which people will feel pleasure and satisfaction and at the same time has the power to link space to the unconscious by creating mental references. Louis Kahn goes on, saying that: “What is made by Light casts a shadow, and the shadow belongs to Light.” Therefore, shadow can be considered as a proof of the existence of a silhouette and thus of an erected space. If we look up the word shadow in the dictionary amongst many definitions, we will find the followings 2 : 1.An area that is not or is partially irradiated or illuminated because of the interception or radiation by an opaque object 1 Louis Kahn, Libraries-Bibliotecas, Col.leg D’ Arquitectes de Catalunya, 1989, p. 134. 2


between the area and the source of radiation. 2.The rough image cast by an object blocking rays of illumination. 3.An imperfect imitation or copy. 4.Shadows. The darkness following sunset. 5.A mirrored image or reflection. 6.A phantom; a ghost. 7.Shelter; Protection. Hence shadow, already by its definition, suggests some kind of illusion and light is its creator. Shadow stands between darkness and light and by altering either one of them we can get different effects in the way that an image is perceived by the human eye. If we think these effects in relation with space and the fact that space receives light and light receives space, we could claim that light can be a tool for manipulating space and the opposite. In the following, we will make an attempt to understand how this two-way relationship can create a variation of transformations and deformations that can alter our perception and give us the stimulants so as to interpret our surrounding through a different perspective. We will try to find out how can light “reconstruct space” and how it can make us “read” familiar environments under a prism that can estrange them from their usual context. Also we see light taking part in a visual deception that transforms fabrication into real and doable projects.


LIGHT REFORMING SPACE In his series of pictures Camera Obscura, the photographer Abelardo Morell turns different rooms (mostly hotel rooms) into the interior of a camera. Through the technique of camera obscura, Abelardo Morell takes pictures that record the marriage of a domestic scene and the world beyond the window. With the aid of natural light, ordinary spaces that seem almost neutral and indifferent, like hotels rooms, are transformed into new, unidentifiable entities. Public sceneries are isolated so as to enter the private space. This metamorphosis of the rooms gives birth to several metaphors and narrations that involve not only space but also the human body and the way it’s experiencing its surrounding. The perception of space is changed, because of the optical. While, the world outside the window intrudes into the room, both the inside and the outside are distorted. The outside is projected abstracted from its context and therefore it loses its references. It is altered to a defined fragment that it is no longer possible to be related to its surrounding. Furthermore, the moment the world “enters� the pinhole, loses the sounds, the smells and the textures that normally accompany it. The buildings forming the urban-scape are transformed to furniture, by hanging upside-down from the ceiling like lamps. Hence, perception can be accomplished only through vision and because of this reason, the only evidence about what lies behind the blacked windows is a reversed representation. There is no way of double crossing the relation between the representation and the real object, even by sight. If we place our eye in front of the pinhole the representation will disappear. Therefore, what we see and experience inside the room is something that stands between reality and illusion. It seems almost like a re-invention of the outside space. This


disorientated and deprived from its usual context image reforms the way we gaze real space and gives a new meaning to its contents. The inside of the room is distorted as well as the outside. Space is not the same anymore and its transformation doesn’t involve some kind of architectural intervention that is applied in the structural form of the room. Only by the intervention of light, space acquires a new dimension that creates new narrations. A new space is projected over the existing one and its lifetime equals the lifetime of the sun light. Every day the world imprinted on the walls is slightly different from the one of the previous day and it disappears with the sunset. Light is the mechanism that reveals and conceals one of the two spaces each time. This circular game of disclosure and concealment provides an ephemeral environment defenceless to shadows. Its existence presupposes that no obstacle would block the sun rays. Under these new conditions the new space is shaped. It seems like if light has the power to dissolve the boundaries of the walls and to “re-dimension” space; to re-sculpture it. In the pictures of Abelardo Morell the viewer has the illusion that all horizontal and vertical surfaces like the ceiling and the walls or even the furniture, suddenly, deform and attain ridges, overhangs or hallows and holes that convert twodimensional objects to three-dimensional. The cars in Time Square can now pass through the solid walls and turn them into gates. A bed can be “transported” into the middle of the street beside skyscrapers or in the opposite way, a small town can be shifted inside an office. All indoors equipment can be transferred in the open space and all the urban in the private one. Through this technique and by only instrument light, all these displacements can be made without really moving the objects. It seems more like a simulation, where vision has


the ability to create such effects to the brain that a person can put himself to an illusive scenery and believe that he is really there. But how can the body experience such a space? What does it mean for a person to sleep under a street surrounded by buildings? These photographs are introducing a new way of inhabiting space by suggesting an un-conventional look upon it. They create new narratives that give birth to different types of inhabitation. Morell’s work implies that through vision, a resident, either permanent or casual, can experience his surrounding, in a different way from what he is used to. While, the outside comes closer, the individual feels that is part of two places at the same time. Once more, we see how the mind can be tricked by vision and be led where the eyes take it. Light in this case, has the power to deprive the objects that form space, from their original concept and place them somewhere else. Space as we know it, is alienated and what alienates it, is removed from its accustomed place and the set of its associations. Louis Kahn notes that, “Architecture is the making of a room; an assembly of rooms. The light is the light of that room”1. If we keep in mind the pictures of Morell we could reverse the comment of Louis Kahn and suggest that a room is the room of a specific light and that light can be the mechanism for manipulating that room in such extent that it would be experienced as a different one.

1 Louis Kahn, Libraries-Bibliotecas, Col.leg D’ Arquitectes de Catalunya, 1989, p. 137.


LIGHT INTRODUCING FABRICATIONS The work of the Canadian artist, Carl Zimmerman, Lost Hamilton Landmarks and Landmarks of Industrial Britain consists of a series of photographs that depict vast architectural spaces. At first glance, theses photographs can be read as a historical documentation of public buildings of the 19th century. They are composed by huge, interior spaces formed by detailed arches and doomed roofs that sometimes are supported by crumbling ruined walls. Occasionally tiny human figures appear at the bottom of these cavernous spaces giving a better sense of the vast scale. These spaces are bleak, lonely and eerily lit from an unnamed source and while they seem antique they also give us a sense of present future. A closer look to the titles of the photographs indicates that these buildings are sited in ordinary cities like Leeds, Manchester and Birmingham but they are dated in the present. This small detail reveals to us that Zimmerman’s works is based in artifice. These spaces do not exist; they are imaginary. Zimmerman is building up models, photographs them and then manipulates them digitally so as to look real. How Zimmerman succeeds in fooling the eyes to believe that what they see is the representation of real spaces? If we examine the photographs carefully we will understand that the illusion of reality is derived from the creation of a certain atmosphere that provides space with something familiar, something that in our subconscious is linked to spaces that we already know and their characteristics are recorded to our memory. In order to recreate this atmosphere Zimmerman is using light so as to attribute the materials their usual texture and to “construct” a three-dimensional space. Alois Riegl, an art historian of the nineteen century, claimed that the optical formulation depends upon the relation of


light to shade-something intangible-rather that upon solid, self-contained forms with a simple shape and definite limits. The optical reads well from a distance because forms can emerge with one another and the pictorial effect of depth can be achieved. The scene is conceived in terms of valeurs, that is, values of light and shade.1 The quality and quantity of light and shadow are represented according to what is register in our subconscious as correct and is exactly what makes us believe in the existence of a three-dimensional space behind the images of Zimmerman. Even though, shadow is considered as the proof of the existence that holds some general characteristics of the silhouette that carries it, Nietzsche in his book Zarathustra claims that “Noon is the moment of the briefest shadow the end of the longest error the high point of (pinnacle) humanity”. Joanne Faulker analyzing these words gives the following interpretation: “Midday is not the moment when the sun embraces everything makes all shadows disappear, and constitutes an undivided Unity of the world; it is the moment of the shortest shadow… when the sun is at its zenith, things are not simply exposed (“naked” as it were); they are; so to speak, dressed in their own shadow”2. Hence, Nietzsche is arguing that there is already a distortion of reality the moment a shadow is being shed. Things are hidden or covered up beneath the shadow; things that alter our perception. Zimmerman is using this attribute of the shadow in order to fabricate these illusionary spaces. Apart from using the materials that simulate the real ones, he illuminates them in such way so as their falsity to be hidden under their shadow and our perception 1 Hyde Minor, Vernon, Art History’s History, Prentice-Hall Inc., New York, 1994, p. 111. 2 Joanne Faulker, When Two becomes One: The prism through which Nietzsche appears as Lacan, p.27


to be deceived. In addition, the artist is using the qualities and variations of natural light to control the features of the viewing area. In some cases he is benefiting a “cold”, minimal lighting that

allows the viewer to have a general and neutral inspection of the spaces depicted and in other cases he is using light as a dramatic element so as to direct the viewer’s sight into a certain point of the photograph. Though this trick, not only the sense of real is enforced, but also these artificial interiors attain something sublime that overcomes human nature. Light manages to supply these vast scale structures with a sense of emptiness and total silence that makes them imposing and impressive. It appears as their only “inhabitant” and it turns up to be the central theme of the photographs emphasizing, in this way, their vacancy. If we imagine the small visiting figures that are placed at the bottom of the picture, speaking we can almost hear their voices echoing in the large rooms and corridors. In a strange way light participates in making these spaces seem more deserted and tumbledown. Its quality in combination with the quality of the surfaces that discloses, on the one hand places them in a certain period in time (they seem like ruins of the 19th century) and on the other hand while they are antique, they present a picture of possible future. Because buildings are the leftovers of history, Zimmerman’s photographs in a way, fabricates the past and at the same time shows the potential evolution of the present.


SPACES CREATED WITHOUT THE INTERVENTION OF THE HUMAN EYE Let’s assume that we do not have, in our disposal, light as a “tool” of the interpretation or the creation of space; that we are blind and we cannot use our eyes to perceive space. What kind of imaginary or architectural space we would produce? How significant is the presences of this illuminative source and in extension, of the human eye, as the organ that enables vision, in the formation of space? Which would be the characteristics of such a space? In order to answer these questions, we will try to find out how the subconscious is activated towards the creation of representations of space. By what means the mind reconstructs space and what ways does it use so as fill in the absence of the eye? What are the importance and the role of imaginary and memory in these conditions of darkness? In our effort to understand this kind of spaces we will use two examples where reconstruction, representation and creation are taking place, without the intervention of the human eye.


SCRIPTED ARCHITECTURE The last few years we are witnessing the begging of a computational era, where the ways that architects conceive, model and fabricate buildings or urban spaces, have changed. While we are heading towards the extinction of the plan, the representation has already started to recede from its original context. The computer model has transformed into an interface for dynamic stimulations that includes both description and instruction for the automatic construction of complex forms. In order for the architect to create these complex forms, has to be introduced to special design softwares that are based on algorithms and require programming skills. Through various computer softwares, design has been encoded into a series of commands that form a script. Students in architectural schools are now trained to use them and thus they are initiated to a different “language of designing”, which allows them to “script architecture”. One, of the most commonly used design programs that is based on algorithms, is Rhinoceros. Rhinoceros is a parametric1 architectural program that gives the user the possibility to produce three-dimensional models and elaborate their shape and texture. For the time being, the program provides the user the alternative of creating models either via graphic manipulations or by writing a code directly (RhinoScript). Rhinoscript is a plug-in program for the automatization of the main software. According to its users, its biggest advantages are precision in terms of organization and efficiency between various agents and execution of ambitious complexities. The whole function of the program is based on three tools: loops, 1 Parametric design is the latest development in CAD software, and refers to the inclusion of parametric data embedded within 3D objects (i.e., all the parameters, such a s height, depth, thicknesses, weight, and even attributes such as model numbers and materials),



Juergen Weiss in his Master Thesis used the above script to design the project “High Rise Tower� .


High Rise Tower


conditionals and data types. “The same tools can be ordered or composed in a slightly different way to design a city or a chair�2. Hence, this program is made up so as to solve internal problems in the procedure of setting up an architectural form that is getting more and more complicated and it can be compared to a kind of language that we can exploit so as to describe a wide variety of different things. The user is given the possibility to erect a three-dimensional model directly, without the need of plans. In a reversed procedure from what we knew until now, plans emerge from the model. The result is an architectural space that is conceived algorithmically, executed through computers and inhabited interactively. The new shapes that come up are getting more and more bizarre and un-familiar. The in-situ gives its place to non-locality and multiplicity. The fixed view point that we were accustomed to as reference until now, gives its place to a condition of interactive presence. All constants have been replaced with variables. Space is becoming unpredictable. Although we can calculate with great accuracy characteristics that relate to shape, like geometry, we cannot assure space qualities, like the interaction of the human body with the building. The architectural structure is erected in a virtual environment that has no dimensions. Within this environment, the form is disconnected from function and scale, indicating a time where architecture has exceeded the anxiety of being built; of being seen as a material entity. Now the image is not presented in a material way but in relation of time, to the ex-

posure time that allows or edits seeing3. The understanding of an object is concentrated in instances of the representation; 2 Institute for advanced architecture of Catalonia, Prospectus and Projects 2008.09, p. 55, 72 3 Paul Virilio, The Vision Machine, trans. Julie Rose, Indiana University Press, p.61


in frames. It is like the eye renounces space as a whole and is only interested in “taking peeks” at snap-shots that are taken from a model that is set up in a virtual space. This space is non-continuous, no-retinal and because is made digitally and has no reference to a specific point in real space but instead it is open to tele-presence. The architect that masters this “foreign language” has the ability to work only by typing the commands in a script, without ever seeing the model he creates. Even if he chooses to check the changes that the code causes to the model, he has first to load the script to the program. That means that during the whole course of action, the architect can see only instances of the representation. Within this logic, he can create a form solely by describing it through codes. The shape of a structure can be “sculptured” with a combination of numbers and words without the supervision of the procedure being necessary. The final project, the representation, is built up in a virtual environment only through the use of symbols. The philosopher Slavoj Zizek referring to the Lacanian theory of the Symbolic Real says that symbols are scientific formulas that even though they “work”, we cannot translate them to our experience of life4. According to this statement, for those that are not initiated to this “language” is impossible to relate these marks on the computer screen to an image because they do not have any reference to their experience of everyday life. Even the experts, those who know the function of the code and its meaning, are unable to translate the symbols directly. They are only capable of predicting the result of the commands they are typing by memorizing the relation of the code to a certain transformation in the shape of the model. The model is virtual because the person figuring it does not 4 Slavoj Zizek, The Reality of the Virtual,


see the procedure of its creation but only its description. The form constructed exists only as a mental image that the user tries to reconstruct by memory. This kind of method for producing representations broadens even more the distance between the creator and the object. Vision which is considered to be the only of the five senses that constructs an understanding of an object in a non-spatial way is somehow removed from the disposal of the person seating in front of the screen. The visual control of the representation is limited only over the input drawing and the final output. The form emerges thanks to rapid calculations of algorithms that decode information and convert it to the pixels that compose the image. The script is taking the form of a recipe that is describing the steps so as to get from one point to the other. During the time between the two steps, the architect, being unable to see the result of his actions, he chooses to perform in darkness. He sees without seeing and he touches without touching because the object he constructs does not yet exist. The code, at the same time, hides and shapes the model. The eye is not necessary anymore; therefore neither the light. This whole world that is being erected behind the codes is a world made up in secret5; hidden even from its creator. With the revelation of the secret comes the seduction of the eye. The image is being made as to be seen. The entire procedure takes place, for the pleasure of the eye. Architecture is produced for the eye without the eye. The image is given back to light in order to be made visible and pleasure to be achieved. Programs like Rhinoscript are evolving into something more that simple tools that solve the problems in representation, because they have started to affect a great deal the way 5 The Latin root of the word secret means to segregate, to remove from understanding. Paul Virilio, The Vision Machine, trans. Julie Rose, Indiana University Press, p.69


we conceive and interpret space. All the more, they seem to overcome their instrumentality and our field of knowledge. They set the begging of the infiltration of the computer’s automatization into the imaginary. From one hand, the architect has started to adjust his imagination to the possibilities and demands of the program and from the other hand randomness has been given more space, in a way that the architect does not have full control of the result. The architect voluntarily has turned the program into co-creator by assigning it the construction of a representation that excludes his own the eye. If the eye of an architect, that is one that determines creation until now, is no longer necessary, what is his role in this new computerized era? If this program is so efficient that can produce architecture just by scripting why the architect can not be replaced by a programmer? Karl Chu that is considered the “guru” of algorithmic architecture keeping up with the changes that are happening in the field of architecture makes the following comment:

…Consequently, it is only a matter of time that the world will witness bio-machinic mutation of species which, in all probability, will proliferate into every facet of what so far has been the cultural landscape of humanity. Architects take note: this is the beginning of the demise, if not the displacement, of the reign of anthropology, which, for obvious reasons, has subsumed architecture. Architecture, especially from the standpoint of its mythical inception, has always been a subset of anthropology: the expulsion of Minotaur, the beast, by entrapping it into the labyrinth built by Daedalus, the mythical architect at Knossos. The potential emancipation of architecture from anthropology, as naïve and terrifying as it may sound, is already affording us to think for the first time of a


new kind of xenoarchitecture: an information labyrinth or, better still, a universal matrix that is self-generating and selforganizing with its own autonomy and will to being - the eternal return of the triumphant beast within which we are all implicated in. 6 According to Karl Chu, what is happening now in architecture, make us think on a future where architecture is heading to its complete automatization by being self-generated and autonomous. Space will be able to self-form and the intervention of the architect would no longer be necessary. Since one of the main attributes of the algorithms is the incorporation of randomness, it is not difficult to imagine a future where the program could produce infinitive versions of an original prototype and hence create constantly new forms. If we take this assumption one step further, would it be possible that one day we will be able to “order architecture� just by filling up a form in the internet? In a procedure similar to arranging a trip, we will have the possibility to order an architectural solution, by putting down in a form our preferences. The algorithm will then combine all the data and produce a series of alternatives that would fit our demands. This will result an architectural solution that will be given directly from the algorithm without the intervention of the architect. Within this terrifying prophecy the architect has no place. He would be excluded because he would no longer be necessary.

6 Karl Chu,http://www.arch.columbia.edusap/28630


DREAMSCAPE Until now, there is no proven fact on why we are dreaming. Two different schools, the physiological and the psychological school of thought, give their own explanation to this question. Both of them agree that we dream during the REM, or rapid eye movement, phase of sleep. During this phase of sleep, our closed eyes dart rapidly about, our brain activity peaks, and our muscles suffer temporary paralysis.

The physiological theory centres upon how our body, specifically our brains, function during the REM phase of sleep. According to Professor Allan Hobson, circuits in the brain stem are activated during REM sleep. Once these circuits are activated, areas of the limbic system involved in emotions, sensations, and memories, including the amygdala and hippocampus, become active. The brain synthesizes and interprets this internal activity and attempts to signals meaning to these signals, which results in dreaming1.

1J.Allan Hobson. Dreaming-An introduction to the science of sleep, Oxford University Press, 2002, p.71


Other scientists that belong to the same category, like Francis Crick and Graeme Mitchinson developed a theory according to which memories are encoded in neuronal networks and when one point of the web is excited a pulse travels through the network prompting recall. They claim that network systems like this, malfunction when there is an over load of incoming information and as a result, a person can have fantasies, obsessions or hallucinations. To deal with information overload, the brain needs a mechanism to debug and tune the network. This method, they say, is REM sleep and that the hallucinatory quality of dreams is nothing more than the random neural firing needed for the daily cleanup of the network. 2 On the other side, psychological theorists of dreams focus upon our thoughts and emotions. The most important representative among them, Sigmund Freud, stated that dreams are wish-fulfilments and that these wishes are the result of repressed or frustrated sexual desires. The anxiety surrounding these desires turns some dreams into nightmares. Freud also said that there had been three great humiliations in human history: Galileo's discovery that we were not the centre of the universe, Darwin's discovery that we were not the crown of creation, and his own discovery that we are not in control of our own minds. Carl Jung gives his own definition of dreams by saying that:

“As in our waking state, real people and things enter our field of vision, so the dream-images enter like another kind of reality into the field of consciousness of the dream-ego. We do not feel as if we were producing the dreams, it is rather as if the dreams came to us. They are not subject to our control but obey their own laws. They are obviously autonomous psychic complexes which form themselves out of their own 2


material. We do not know the source of their motives, and we therefore say that dreams come from the unconscious”. 3 Although the two psychoanalysts disagree over the origin of dreams they both acknowledge the fact that we don’t have control over the images that our brain produces while we are sleeping. That would mean that whence our eyes are closed perception is inactivated and a different procedure takes place so as to build up the most suitable environment for the projection of our thoughts and feelings. Since, our perception is inactivated all the terms we use, in order to speak about space are transformed and acquire a different meaning than the one we used until now to speak about real space. In order to understand the transition to a world that no longer depends of the human eye, we will look upon three Freudian definitions:

Displacement: a dream object’s emotional significance is separated from its real object or context and attached to an entirely different one that doesn’t raise the censor’s suspicions. Representation: a thought is translated to visual images. Symbolism: a symbol replaces an action, person or idea.4 The above definitions verify the fact that whence we close our eyes and fall asleep, the reference point of these words is moved from objects to emotions or ideas. Thus, we could claim that Freud borrows these terms that describe visible space in an attempt to give shape to what our mind constructs in darkness, while sleeping. Through the vocabulary he selects to use, he manages to maintain this bond to reality that allows him to translate the invisible into something relative to our own field of experience and therefore to become more comprehensible. 3 Carl Jung, The Psychological Foundations of Belief in Spirits, in CW 8: The Structure and Dynamics of the Psyche 1920, p. 580 4 J. Laplanche et J.-B. Pontalis, Vocabulaire de la psychanalyse, Presses Universitairies de France, 1967


One of the things that make dreams so interesting to us is that we are experiencing them as reality; that is to say, that while we are dreaming we are not aware that we are dreaming. Although that in our subconscious dreams are recorded as the opposite of reality, as a world of shadows, we are not able to distinguish dreams from reality before we wake up. This is perhaps the reason why many people consider dreams to be a continuation of reality. A reality that is altered by emotions (representation) and the images are used as symbols to an action or idea (symbolism), obtaining a second lever of reading. Not only they are representations of reality but in dreams these representations are also represent our mental and emotional world. Dreams withdraw their materials from the memory archive where all the images of the real world are stored and kept after they are grasped from the eye with the aid of light. Memory from one hand supplies the material for their creation and from the other hand is unable to conserve them in their full extent. It is believed that, five minutes after the end of a dream, a person forgets 50% of it, 10 minutes later 90%. Therefore, we could say that the eye is becoming a tool

for memory in order to collect images that will be later used while dreaming. Even though, the eye is not actively “present” in the creation of dreams, it plays a very important role in their formation. It is the intermediate between the inside and the outside. As soon as it closes everything is immersed into darkness and vision is disabled. We can see neither the world around us nor the one that is built up in our mind. This barrier (the eye) is so difficult to cross that Bunuel in his movie “An Andalusian Dog” was force to slash the eyeball of a woman with a razorblade in order to enter the word of her dreams and make it visible. While we are dreaming even though our eyelids are closed, our eyes keep on moving like they are looking for or at something. Let us imagine that during this time, in these conditions of isolation from the outside, the eye is forced to turn towards the inside so as to seek the images needed for the brain to produce dreams. Inside our head the eye will stand in front of a very bizarre space where there is no light, no time and no scale; a space that is based on a concept of closeness



hood. There, from the memory archive, the


eye will choose the most suitable fragments for the creation of the imaginary places that will become the ground for feelings and ideas to unfold. The unconscious, like a skilled architect, will blend all these fragments in order to create temporary spaces that similarly to real spaces, will host people and events. During dreaming, the unconscious is turned to a mechanism for the production of endless combinations of images. At first, this mechanism estranges the spaces that it produces from reality and then attributes them a new mental and emotional context that converts them to familiar once more but in a different way. Maybe this is the reason that dreams became a source of creativity for the Surrealists and drove them to treat them as a wellspring of ideas that has the power to make us question our preconceptions of reality. Another question that is raised through dreams is the relationship between life, death and their proximity. Sleep comes every night as prophesy for our upcoming death. The sole distinction between death and sleep is one of degree. When we go to sleep, we lay down, we close our eyes, following we have a short period of unconsciousness and suddenly, we dream. Exactly at that moment, sleep is proved to be an imperfect fulfilment of death. Every time that we wake up and we are able to recall our dreams, we confirm that we are not dead yet. Thus, dreams come in our sleep as repetitive exercises that help us face our terrifying destiny. They smooth the cruel and absolute darkness by supplying it with images and spaces filled with references our life experience. What verifies the fact that we are alive is our ability to feel and think and that is exactly what is projected in our dreams. As a result, when the moment of the death will come, our mind will be prepared to simulate it to a deep sleep that contains the expectation of a dream following the frightening period of total darkness.


Consequently, the dream space is standing somewhere between life and death, reality and illusion. It is an intermediated where space is constructed in a dark interior, without the intervention of the eye, the moment that we loose control of our mind, our conscious is unable and our judgment is paralyzed. Within this un-dimensional space all combinations are possible. The rules of the visible reality come apart. The accuracy of the eye is replaced by the relativity of the unconscious that has the authority to give thoughts and emotions spatial proportions. The archive of the representations that the eye collected is revised within a different context. Dreams are the ultimate space of darkness. There light is not needed anymore.

J. W. Waterhouse: Sleep and his half Brother Death - 1874


illuminated fabrications-constructing non-visible space  
illuminated fabrications-constructing non-visible space  

The image has transformed into a kind of show and the eye has started to depend more and more on an interface rather than imagination. Al...