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The Stereoscopic Veil
‘The Stereoscopic Veil’, Architectural Research Quarterly, (March 2007), v. 11, n. 1, pp. 36–51.The aim of the paper is to challenge the notion of the picture plane – a veil, or window, through which space can be perceived and represented – established during the Renaissance and still permeating architectural representation today. Contexts: The analysis draws from art historical, history of science and contemporary architectural critical theory sources revealing the interdisciplinary nature of the research. Marcel Duchamp’s work, in particular his final assemblage Given: 1st the Waterfall, 2nd the Illuminating Gas…, 1946–1966, becomes the focus of the investigation. The research was through textual analysis combined with focused study of images and artworks. Furthermore this paper is an example of my use of critical drawing and performative experiments aimed to reveal, develop and represent the argument in a visual manner. Methods: The first part of the paper shows how the perspectival picture plane is indispensable in constructing vision ‘correctly’ and leads to an understanding of space as a precise homogenous continuum bounded by flat planes. This monocularly viewed thin veil is connected with orthographic projection and has dominated architectural representation by revealing the inner workings of the projected building onto two-dimensional intersections. The second part of the paper introduces Duchamp’s notion of the veil, which challenges the perspectival picture plane. More specifically, it discusses how in Given – which features a binocular door, reminiscent of the stereoscope, and a fractured intersecting surface, in the form of a broken wall – the veil expands stereoscopically. The description of an experiment staging Given through stereo-photography points to a possible inhabitation of the stereoscopic veil. Finally the paper concludes by reflecting on the creative potential of stereoscopy in architectural image making. Dissemination/Esteem: An early version of this paper was presented at Spatial Interface, an international conference at University of Westminster, School of Architecture and the Built Environment, April 2006.
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