inside or outside the frame

January 29, 2010

The context / scenario: 5*5*5m exhibition room in shopping-mall.

Main theme: vertigo / potempkin

As explained in the previous blog, the main idea is the potempkin & vertigo theme. To summarize my understanding about the theme, I would say it is about the frame (the scope of vision), or the phenomena people see. Thus, it is crucial for my project to illustrate the existing and feeling of the ‘border’. With the discussion with teacher and colleagues, drama / theatre stage is the best stepping-stone to achieve the feeling of ‘border’. The argument is that the ‘border’ will be given more sense of reality by letting the user feel they are ‘inside’ or ‘outside’ the frame. As a result, I developed the scene of ‘being on the stage’ and ‘seeing the stage’ on two façade.

The contrast between two walls.

Besides the scene of ‘being on the stage’ (being inside the drama) and ‘seeing the stage’ (watching the drama), the second difference between these two façades, is the fact of perception. The façade on the left hand side seems possible to walk out of the stage, but actually it is just the effect of visualization. Conversely, on the right hand side of the wall, there are also tricks of illusion (‘the droste effect’ and perspective), but this time there is an invitation to the audience to walk on the stage simply as that. 

from potemkin to vertigo

January 16, 2010

The term ‘vertigo’ refers to the dizziness cause by graphic design. Nevertheless, it reminds me of Escher. Some of his famous work is playing between 2D & 3D, graphical shap transformation, and perspective. I really appriciate such concepts and want to reflect on my project.

Once I went to a speach about Escher, and was introduced about ‘the droste effect.’Such concept as ‘theoretically endless strech’, which is also a kind of vertigo to me, could be found in many products.

Back to the 5*5*5 box. On the one hand, it has become a stage in last step. On the other hand hand, the exhibition room still resist inside. To combine these two function together,my idea is to use the support from paper-relief effect in order to combine the real stage with background curtain.

The starting point: Potemkin

In order to start with the idea of Potemkin, I started to search and try to understand what is Potemkin.

“Potemkin village, a term for fake settlements, named after Grigori Potemkin.” “…as politically a Potemkin village generally alludes to a false construct that hides an unattractive situation.” ~Corey Apar

“…So, while “Potemkin village” has come to mean, especially in a political context, any hollow or false construct, physical or figurative, meant to hide an undesirable or potentially damaging situation, the phrase may not apply to its original context.” ~wiki

“The title of the album is an allusion to Potemkin village, a political term referring to a false construct intended to hide an undesirable situation.” Potemkin City LImits, an album by the band Propagandhi.

What I read from the explanation of Potemkin is to establish a fake phenomenon, perhaps it’s because the repeating words such as ‘hide’ . In the beginning, this is simply act as a artificial but real layer which make the audience believe it’s the truth. I found this concept is also very close to idea of ‘frame’ in photography or film. It depends what should be inside the frame and what not. Nevertheless, as it developed until now, not only the ‘artificial, un-real skin’ still continues, but many times people also revile the conflict surrounding (or what I call the back stage). And in my opinion, this performance had made the issue more interesting. Modernisme Als IdeaalBeeld — Visual Acoustics, een profiel van overleden fotograaf” ~ Julius Shulman Un-expectedly, I saw this series of photo above. The interior in the photo constructs a very modern atmosphere, while the house itself is located in a relatively wild nature. The message I get from these snapshots is that “the people living in that house seems lived in a bubble. The life they dream of has nothing to do with the outer world (which is just right outside the window or the door)”. Isn’t this the essence of Potemkin? I than search for more pictures inside urban area, such as the park (present a very comfortable natural environment) in the foreground and lots of high scrapper (the busy, convenient living) in the back. What I am trying to show is that any project which “if you only focus inside the site you can illustrate an certain atmosphere, but when you zoom out to let the surrounding environment be inside the picture, the case itself is very conflict with the nearby circumstances”, is Potemkin. If we concentrate in the so-called ‘fake phenomenon’, I consider one of the essential factors is to have sufficient element to guide the audience to imagine and ignore the surroundings. If we take this idea into extreme, it could be the traditional Japanese garden. For example, the Ryogen case in Kyoto presents the movement of the water within limited material and space. Meanwhile, the musical is also a nice example if we try to link with the ‘frame’ mentioned before. Within restricted space and fix scene, the musical are forced to use relatively basic stage properties, light effects, together with the performance of the actors to create the whole world in the script. It has to be intense enough to attract the audience only focusing on the stage and temporary forget the fact that they are only inside a theatre. To be more specific, imagine you are seat in the back row with telescope and picture the scenes as you take off and put on that telescope. I consider this status is very close to the significance of Potemkin.

How to make the concept as a concrete project?

At first, I thought the best way to present is through photography. Because it can than clearly present the point of inside/outside the frame. However, after discuss with colleagues, we thought maybe the stage could strengthen the concept and bring more vitality. Meanwhile, it is important to emphasis on the part of ‘border’ (frame), and the conflict between inside and outside visually and meaningfully. When link to the 5*5*5m model, I imagine this box as a stage in the shopping mall, a stage-like exhibition space. The drama (just to give the stage a scene) is the life at home, such as the snapshots of the movie above. The audience will see the interior (on the stage) and outdoor (the normal shopping behavior) at the same time (which has a strong contrast) when they are meters away, and see the same picture in the photo when they walk into the exhibition place on the stage. I am still studying on how to bring the contrast of the stage and the surroundings (shopping mall). Perhaps work on venue, the difference between western (shopping mall) and oriental (for example, living room in Japan) condition, or base on time difference: medieval castle hall versus shopping mall.

vs. vs.

Something there but not there, something not there but there

After the teacher introduced the project, I start to think how to make the concept ‘missing part, something (should be) there but not there’ realized by the material of a 5*5*5m box/space. I came up with several ideals. They all have something to do with the visual perception, the illusion tricks. After some thought of those ideals, I found myself more interested in thinking from an opposite way: something not there but there. It would be excited to combine the points together: ‘Something there but not there, something not there but there’. Only this time it is more than a pure optical illusion, but a illusion of consciousness at the same time.

Since this 5*5*5m box will be installed in a shopping mall, than what shopping mall has? Shops, products/gifts; mini-garden, plants, benches; people, flow of people…etc.

Flow of people

It is interesting to see what people react when they meet a roadblock. (If the corridor is 10m wide, than a 5*5*5m box is than obviously a road block.) Some people will stop and turn as soon as they see the roadblock. Some may just pass it. But Some people might go toward it to have a better look. What if that road block is meant to attract people? Is it still named as a road block anymore? How to play with this reversible concept?

The ‘Something’

A 5*5*5m can be said as a space, but it can also be viewed as a ‘giant object’. With kind of an intension to attract people, it should be something meet people’s desire and eye-catching as well. Than question comes, what is people (customer’s) desire? Perhaps some were to rest after long time of walking? Somewhere relax? Or maybe some place can…? How about a place where they can find some surprises? Maybe something has some kind of visual impact or eye-catching such as public art?

A series of experience

Consider this 5*5*5m space as a pausing-hub. Imagine this, when people walk along the shopping corridor, they may pause because of this space. Maybe they just simply take a rest at the lounge, and possibly have their ice cream or sandwiches. And latter on continue their journey. Or if they are curious, they will find something different inside the box than what they see 10 meters away. They might be interested in the exhibition, which is not only here but spread all over the shopping mall. Since then, the box now becomes the trigger of a new journey, a trigger which motivates people to search other boxes or follow the planned exhibition rout.

The link with Potemkin

The concept of Potemkin in brief is that what the phenomena shows may not be the same as what it is. Thus, in this proposal, the illusion/camouflage of lounge is actually an exhibition space (the black room).