architecture parallax : the apparatus of disappearance - appearance

     Project : 28th São Paulo Biennial 2008 - entitled : In Living Contact      

Is a theoretical perceptual investigation and a critique of the modernization of vision? What do you see when you look? What is there and what do we think we are really seeing?

"It is a matter of distance and it is a matter of position. … This may be no more than an effect of optics, as Jacques Lacan indicated in his reflection on the experiment of the inverted bouquet. We may see an imaginary phenomenon, a real bouquet of flowers in a real vase brought together in a spherical mirror through a fusion of real and imaginary space. It is an illusion that risks falling apart at any moment if the viewer is in the wrong place. The setup is simple enough – a bouquet of flowers is suspended under a hollow box, placed on a stand, more or less lined up with the centre of a half-sphere, nicely polished, at a distance. Without the reflective sphere, the viewer cannot see the flowers, but can see the vase placed on top of the stand. In the reflective sphere, the viewer can see both flowers and vase; indeed, the flowers are in the vase in the mirror but the image is strange, despite the appearance of reality, unless the viewer is quite far away, and distance allows parallax to do its work in producing a complete and satisfying illusion. Lacan turns this experiment into a metaphor for the human subject, who has to be in the field of the sphere."             Sharon Kivland

The Bienal was first mounted in 1951; the same year that Oscar Niemeyer presented a model in public for the Ibirapuera Park complex to celebrate the 400th anniversary of the city's founding in 1954. In the local indigenous language, Ibirapuera means - árvore morta (dead tree) and the Ibirapuera region was a swamp.  During the construction period, various jokes were made about the "sinking" of this modern enterprise; a contemporary paradox of the utopic.                                                         


• The Device - Apparatus : Disappear - Appear

A specially constructed optical apparatus will contain the model of the biennial pavilion: the original model, in the Biennial's archive, was custom-made in order that the blind could touch and understand the Pavilion building. The optical apparatus will allow the observer to experience the appearance and disappearance of the model. The dimensions of constructed apparatus will be 250cm X 250cm X 250cm and fabricated with plywood, lights, mirror and glass.  It will operate for the duration of the biennial.


• The Camera Obscura - (Latin, dark chamber)

Constructed to accommodate the optical apparatus, a chamber in darkness, is a metaphor for the state of “blindness.“

- Location:

A column by the entrance from the building will be included and another column within the chamber, and semi-illuminated by the reflected light from the apparatus, which will generate a relationship between the model and the actual building.

The chamber will be located near the glass window looking into the obelisk monument, a city view direction.

- Material to construct - chamber:

A suspended blackout textile curtain on rails, in a circle-oval format, will be hung from the ceiling on rails.

- Diameter of the chamber: 15m X 15m.

- The Action - Claude Glass In living Contact:

Claude Glass, a magician dressed in street clothes, will move through the crowds - in living contact - performing an “act of wonder” within the project's theme appear-disappear by means of a magical device, a “Pandora’s box”. The act will engage the viewer in an unexpected and causal/natural way, leading the viewer to question what are they seeing.  Seeing is culturally learned knowledge, and the experience of vision can be that of wonderment, educational, astonishment, miracle, phenomenon, prodigy, stunner, and wonder.  The means to explain the unexplainable of wonder is the moment of awe.

• Workshop :

Title: Architecture Parallax: Disappearance - Appearance

What do we See, What do we Think we are Seeing and What do we expect to See but it is not there!

The original model, in the Biennial's archive, was custom-made in order that the blind could touch and understand the Pavilion building and will be in exhibition within the workshop space.

Theory - Praxis :

To occur during the biennial event as an on going process of research.

The epistemology of disappearance / appearance, will be an investigation examining, articulating issues and questions as a critique of the modernization of vision; in reflection / deflexion, literature, optics devices, the model / typology, illusion / allusion, memory / amnesia and the its registration - the representation of the amenable objects, agents-vehicles to question the variable points of contemporary ideology regarding vision and its texts with the intention of producing a series of documents; video and a publication.

The device for the workshop will be the parallax methodology. In this situation we will examine the parallax gap, the separating points between which no synthesis or mediation is possible, linked by the short circuit of appearance and disappearance as the generator theme.

The material for the architectonic construct of the workshop will be readymade plywood painted red, “maderite”, a material used in the city's building constructions to form concrete.  Its red colour, is the colour of the São Paulo earth.

The workshop will be for students from various universities in different disciplines. The workshop's architecture will be the space arranged by the participants' action & activities within the workshop. The construction, a "canteiro de obra" (construction site), will be flexible in its format. All the research material brought to this space will be pinned up, and assembled, including video projections, for continuous public presentations and discussions; informing the public and inviting them to participate in the ongoing process of critical investigation and analysis.

An area of 15m X 15m will be needed.                                                       

• Workshop Praxis & Schedule:

     -     Workshop Participants :

     -     24 university students from the areas of architecture, art, semiotics, philosophy and physics.

8 research groups will be formed, with 3 participants per group.

8 Guests will be invited to deliver a lecture on one of the 8 themes researched by the participants and to critique the works in public on weekends during the ongoing process.  Final presentations will take place on the last day of the biennial.

- Workshop Duration:  Over the 42 days of the biennial.

- Construct of space:

10 theoretical vehicles assembled vertically and on casters, 1 for each group, and 2 for video projections.

8 tables of the same material on caster, 1 for each group.

- Material:

Maderite plywood board and casters, which can be rolled around.

- Space:

The architecture space constructed with the 10 theoretical vehicles can be arranged in various ways, and can contract and expand. Each theme group and the collective will determine the general architectural assemblage. The individual tables are also on casters and they can also be assembled as a one large working table. Second hand bar chairs will be used for seating. An interplay between the theoretical vehicles, the tables and chairs, will form the space, yet remain transparent and an open floor concept, thus allowing the public to be involved.

• 8 Invited Lecturers for the Workshop :

A lecture series within the workshop will be for the cultural community, students from various universities - different disciplines and the public in general. All delivered research material by the workshop participants and the invited critics will involve public presentations and discussions, informing the participants in the workshop, the public and inviting them to participate in the ongoing process of critical investigation and analysis.


• Guest Lecturers :

     -      Norvall Baitello Jr. Puc Semiotica. PDF

     -      Peter Pál Bart, Puc Semiotica. PDF

     -      Agnaldo Farias, Fau USP. PDF

     -      Osvaldo Frota Pessoa Jr., Filosofia da Ciência USP . PDF

     -      Luís Carlos de Menezes, Física USP. PDF

     -      José Luís Ortega, Física USP. PDF

     -      Guilherme Wisnik, Escola da Cidade, Critic, Writer. PDF

     -      Gilberto Xavier, Fisiologia, IBUSP. PDF

• 8 Investigation themes to be developed as research in the workshop by 8 groups:

All 8 groups will address their theme in relationship to the project's larger theme;     Appear - Disappear.

- Ap• pear;

1.     to come into sight; become visible.

2.     to be obvious or easily perceived; be clear or made clear by evidence.

3.     to come or be placed before the public.

gin: c.1250, from O.Fr. aper-, stem of apareir, from L. apparere "to appear," from ad- "to" + perere "to come forth, be visible." Appearance "look, aspect" is from c.1385

- Dis• ap• pear;

1.     to cease to be seen; vanish from sight.

2.     to cease to exist or be known; pass away; end gradually: One by one the symptoms disappeared.[Origin: 1520–30; dis-1 + appear]

• 8 Working Themes :

- Literature:

     a. Writings in which expression and form, in connection with ideas of permanent and universal interest

are characteristic or essential features, as poetry, novels, history, biography, and essays.

     b. The entire body of writings of a specific language, period, people.

c. Writings dealing with a particular subject: the literature of ornithology.

- Reflexion / Reflection / Deflexion

The phenomenon of a propagating wave (light or sound) being thrown back from a surface.

A remark expressing careful consideration the image of something as reflected by a mirror (or other reflective material).

The act or state of deflecting or the state of being deflected; the deflexion of the light beam.                                          

- Illusion / Allusion

A perception—a visual stimuli (optical illusion)—that represents what is perceived in a way different from the way it is in reality.  An instance of indirect reference.

The act of reflecting or the state of being reflected. An image; representation; counterpart. A fixing of the thoughts on something; careful consideration.

The act or state of deflecting or the state of being deflected.                                                                                       

- Optics

The branch of physical science that deals with the properties and phenomena of both visible and invisible light, and vision.

a. The return of light, heat, sound, etc., after striking a surface.

b. Something so reflected, as heat or esp. light.

c. (In a plane) the replacement of each point on one side of a line by the point symmetrically placed

on the other side of the line.

d. (In space) the replacement of each point on one side of a plane by the symmetric point on the

other side of the plane.

e. Anatomy. The bending or folding back of a part upon itself.

- Typology

A doctrine of architectural types.  A place in which literary, musical, artistic, or reference materials (as books, manuscripts, recordings, or films) are kept for use but not for sale b: a collection of such materials. A collection of cloned DNA fragments that are maintained in a suitable cellular environment and that usually represent the genetic material of a particular organism or tissue.

- The Model

     a. Being a usually miniature representation of something

     b. An examination of the model applied techniques as a type to represent projected ideologies.

- Memory / Amnesia

a. The power or process of reproducing or recalling what has been learned and retained especially through associative mechanisms

b. The store of things learned and retained from an organism's activity or experience as evidenced by modification of structure or behaviour or by recall and recognition

     a. Loss of memory due usually to brain injury, shock, fatigue, repression, or illness  

b. A gap in one's memory  

c. The selective overlooking or ignoring of events or acts that is not favourable or useful to one's purpose or position

- The Register - The Document

This group will be responsible to manage and put together all the material gathered by the workshop into a presentable document, text, image and video.

• An edited publication with text, images & video by the invited guests, the students and the artist/architect - editor will soon be on your corner bookshop and in the net.