Images in space & space in/within images: charting a shifting dynamic in architecture from disembodied viewpoint to embodied viewer

Brisbin, Christopher Andrew (2010). Images in space & space in/within images: charting a shifting dynamic in architecture from disembodied viewpoint to embodied viewer PhD Thesis, School of Architecture, The University of Queensland.

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Author Brisbin, Christopher Andrew
Thesis Title Images in space & space in/within images: charting a shifting dynamic in architecture from disembodied viewpoint to embodied viewer
School, Centre or Institute School of Architecture
Institution The University of Queensland
Publication date 2010-01-01
Thesis type PhD Thesis
Supervisor John Macarthur
Andrew Leach
Antony Moulis
Total pages 352
Total colour pages 271
Total black and white pages 82
Subjects 12 Built Environment and Design
Formatted abstract
Our visual relationships with architectural propositions are highly mediated by representations, and the image-technologies used to construct them. The context in which these propositions are explored and tested is conceptually framed by image-technologies, such as computer-based design and visualisation software. However, much of the knowledge that underpins how architecture is represented is derived directly from concepts and techniques indebted to Renaissance pictorial art. For example, linear perspective’s influence upon how architectural space is constructed in computer-based environments today remains relatively unchallenged, whilst other creative disciplines apply alternative non-perspectival means of representing space. Further, the re–emerging interest in surface effects throughout the 1990s has—in no small part—materialised as a direct result of increasingly powerful computer processors in combination with the seamless transfer of information between the computer–based design and visualisation software that is used to conceive complex geometrical forms, and the fabrication technologies applied to manufacture these complex geometries as built architectural forms. These fabrication technologies have allowed for the relatively cheap application of images onto almost any material and surface of a built form, with little to no consideration of the broader History of Visuality upon which these image–technologies are ultimately indebted.

In order to reveal potential insights concerning how emerging image–technologies might affect the conception and experience of spatial effects in Architecture, it is necessary to better understand how space was represented and incorporated within pictures through the lens of older relations between space and image in the History of Western Art. This thesis presents a history of concepts and techniques that outline how viewers have engaged with pictures when displayed in space, how space was represented within the image’s composition (space in images) and, finally, how the space in which the image was displayed itself was subsumed within the composition of the image (space within images). This thesis makes a significant and original contribution to the discipline of Architecture by opening up issues of contemporary image-technology, exploring their impact on the tripartite relationship between images in space and space in/within images. This thesis both historicises and speculates on the changing relationship between pictures and viewers in Western Visual Culture; in terms of the dynamic interchange between static and moving images, and stationary and moving viewers. That is to say, it is both reflective and projective in attempting to provide a lens through which to suggest relevant techniques that could be applied in the conceptual and technical application of pictures on the interior and exterior surfaces of architecture today.

Methodologically, this thesis primarily uses historical resources in order to instrumentally explore contemporary problems in Visual Culture and Architecture in parallel to the construction of a series of design–based research demonstrations and analytical diagrams constructed by the author. Significantly, the design–based research demonstrations and analytical diagrams aim to make explicit the conceptual and technical implications of the space–image relation in Architecture that are rarely manifest in a clear, illustrative form by authorities in the field. These analytical diagrams provide a clear visual explanation of complex space–image concepts that reveal original insights into what is at stake when old concepts in Western Art are brought to bear on new problems in Architecture today. The combination of scholarly research, diagrammatic analysis and design–based research demonstration provides a more holistic and productive method through which to discuss, assess and reveal new knowledge concerning the space–image relation. Importantly, this dissertation does not set out to provide an authoritative account of how viewers have historically engaged with images in Art and Architecture, rather it aims to seek out critical moments of transition in the History of Visuality, and reflect upon them through designerly activity.

This thesis discusses four core issues through a series of case studies and design–based research demonstrations. Firstly, this thesis outlines concepts and techniques used in pictorial composition in the late medieval period. This discussion provides a series of original organisational concepts and generative techniques through which to include co-existent viewpoints within one picture: the capacity of a pictorial composition, such as Ambrogio Lorenzetti’s Sala della Pace mural (1338–40), to include a series of different viewpoints that address specific scenes within the image’s overall composition. Secondly, this thesis outlines and assesses key methods of prescribing viewpoint through the application of perspective-based compositional structures in a series of case-study paintings exemplary of Renaissance pictorialism. Thirdly, this thesis outlines and assesses centralised viewpoint and immersive pictorial compositions in Art and Western Visual Culture through the formation of a genealogical connection between the nineteenth-century panorama, Apple’s Quicktime Virtual Reality panorama and Image-Objects in the 1980s, and Jeffrey Shaw’s ‘mixed-reality’ installations of the 1990s. Finally, this thesis outlines and assesses how viewpoint is affected by pictorial compositions that do not represent space, that is, compositions that are non-representational.
Keyword History
Subject/object relation
Space–image relation

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Created: Mon, 01 Nov 2010, 21:52:25 EST by Mr Christopher Brisbin on behalf of Library - Information Access Service