Architecture Parallax : Vision of Difference, Difference of Vision

Location: Observatoire 360º, Place Ville Marie, Montreal 2019


This installation consist of four sculptural optical devices to alter the viewer's vision, that will engage the visiting public at the Observatory 360º deck of the Place Ville-Marie (PVM) building in Montreal during the Festival Art Sousterrain 2019.


The sculptural vision devices will offer a re-evaluation of what we know and expect to see when looking over the city, and addressing the Art Souterrain theme "Le vrai du faux" - "True or False.” Their view will (in effect) “de-correct” the brain's adjustment, and present a “real” image.  This image “contraction” of “Le vrai du faux,” should and will generate visitor conversation.  


My goal here is to fundamentally change the way the viewer sees the city and in turn their own position and sense of space. I seek this transformation of perception because these optical devices will facilitate a different kind of seeing, enabling another perceptual way of experiencing landscape and the city. Essentially this work is about altered vision, subjectivity and agency.


Entering into the observatory space, the visitors will encounter four distinct telescopes placed in accordance to the city cardinal direction; north, south, west and east. Looking though the device, the viewers will be expecting to see a closer view of any buildings in the city, but in fact will be surprised that the view is actually upside down and a colour filter matching the colour of the rubber mat that the telescope sits. This unusual view displaces and excites the expectation of the viewer and begins to engage the viewer with others, raising questions; what do I see? Am I seeing what I am aiming towards? What is happening? Why is it upside down? How we see and why our eyes and brain do alter our perception and cultural positions is what excites me.


When you have optical devices in public sites to view overwhelming cityscapes or landscape, people generally line up, and in this line up they usually start a conversation between each other about what they see, how far they see, how clear they see. The optical devices are the context of this installation at PVM, it becomes a mediator to join each other and the city.


Vision is a loaded concept. Sighted people take vision for granted: we move about the everyday worlds without needing to consider exactly how the human body navigates and positions in space. Nor do we ask ourselves how do we see, and if it is real. For example, it is our brain that corrects retinal information to see right-side-up. This work explores vision by engaging the public to examine the modernization of vision routed through architecture and the built environment.  In turn, it poses questions; what do we imagine to be real or verifiable.


PVM is an iconic Montreal building designed as a cruciform in the venerated International Style by the prestigious architectural office of IM Pei and Henry Cobb in 1958. It has specific contextual references to the history of Montreal's settlement and plan.  


The Observatory 360º, a pristine and simply designed floating platform atop PVM, is the Montrealer's bird's eye view of the city from 188 meters above ground. At the time of its construction it was the tallest viewpoint, and continues to be an important visitor destination.


When entering the engineered glass box of the observatory, my optical devices will impact and magnetically attract the viewer towards engaging it. Curiosity is a predictable behaviour.


To view is an individual right and each viewer has its own intimate choice of view. The 4 telescopes as viewing devices creates history within history.



“Architecture Parallax: Vision of Difference, Difference of Vision”, at Art Souterrain, is curator by Joyce Yahouda.

The project's title references Sally McKay's essay on my work for The Koffler Gallery exhibition in 2015


architecture parallax : vision of difference, difference of vision

observatoire 360º place ville marie montreal canada 2019

curator joyce yahouda

art souterraine 2019

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