As I subscribe weekly to bustler e-newsletter, I came across another competition entitled 2020 Architecture and Film Symposium that peaked my interest. During these days of Netflix and Amazon Prime, I recently watched a documentary and a movie that both creatively alter and or represent our perception of the built environment, in traditional, realistic, or futuristic ways.
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Tradition and Imagination
When architecture professors attend a midterm review, their perception of a student’s work is built on observing the dialogue, presentation skills, generated models, and scaled drawings. When an audience is seated at a movie theater, their perception of a film is built on watching on a large projector screen from start to finish. These activities show how human beings use their senses to build a perception, due to tradition or manipulation.
Surrealism is a media of art that manipulates our perception of past, present, and the future in the built environment by juxtaposing imagery with realism.
An example of surrealistic perception is the Hudsucker Proxy movie, which is set as old Hollywood, during the Art Deco 1930’s with 1950’s scenery. The movie begins with a very dense lineup of skyscrapers and iconic buildings of New York City and Chicago as a miniature-scaled, fantasy cityscape of New York.
The main setting takes place inside the Hudsucker building, which is a manipulated, tall version of the Merchandise Mart. Paneling details of the exterior facade still hold today onto the past of the Art Deco era.
Furnishings in the office interiors were filmed as miniature scale while full height ceiling windows and the backdrop of towering skyscrapers were filmed as “tall and narrow, unfixed dimension” surrealistic scaling.
A corporate executive falls to his death by jumping out of a full height ceiling window. This scene freezes into time-lapsed fragments as if the setting’s building height was one hundred stories. This causes the audience to question and conclude with a best educated guess on how long it realistically takes to fall from a high rise under fifty stories.
Human dimension, ergonomics, and common sense are deemed as satire and as perceptive roadblocks in the Hudsucker Proxy movie.
Another movie that filters and represents our perception in the traditional, present, and future in the built environment is a Netflix documentary, titled Chef’s Table, Season Two, Episode 1. This is a story on a creative, high sensory dining experience at a Michelin restaurant in Chicago, named Alinea. This surreal experience alters the audience’s perception of how we presently and traditionally eat and occupy the spatial needs for dining in a restaurant space.
This documentary experiments very well with futuristic imagery as the chef, Grant Achatz asks, “why does one have to eat on a plate with a fork?” The stage setting begins with him observing abstract art in an art gallery. He then designs a wild painting of varying scales of food including molecular sizing on a dining patron’s table, as his masterpiece.
This defines another example of how a viewer perceives a built environment with restaurant zoning and program requirements involving the function of eating traditionally. As the audience absorbs this as unfamiliar territory, they try to process and see if this futuristic experience is adaptable.
Filming shows how it can alter, represent, inform, and misinform our perception in ways we view the past, present, and future in a built environment, as much as being present in a space.