Thursday, May 31, 2007

sensing daylight

11 Ole Bouman – Architecture Emitting Light
  • Think again. There is one thing that does not come from the hands of the architect, a thing which is essential to the quality of work. Or, rather, not one thing but one energy, a condition that makes it all work. It is the light.
  • The point is that once architecture starts revealing cultural meanings within a certain degree of sophistication, light no longer just touches the object, it starts to be radiated. Architecture not only accepts light, it emits light. By doing so, it starts to tell stories and contributes to the dynamics of our social life. Light seen in this way, s not just reflected by preconceived buildings, but becomes an essential element in the cultural narrative that the building wants to convey.
  • Light emission through architecture equals the emission of culture. If buildings can tell stories, then light is the natural means by which to broadcast these stories.
  • When the sun shines, architecture is the domain of durability and permanence, at night, it becomes the broadcaster of ephemeral, time-based stories. In between, in the twilight zone, architecture might reach its daily zenith of power as a strong cultural protagonist with interchanging effects of moving images and steady materiality.
  • Architects need to think twice: sometimes as the good old materialist and constructivist, sometimes as the storyteller and idealist. A deep understanding and appreciation of the power of light may help them to expand their horizon.
01 Roberto Casati
  • One of the most interesting research projects of the future for architects will certainly be the valorization of light in the southern latitudes and how it can be used artistically and economically – in short, how to see light as a resource rather than a problem.
  • An important aspect of my research concerns the informative properties of light. Unlike certain basic features that arise from the interaction between light and matter, these are higher properties that are dependent on the presence of various objects in the environment and on how these objects reflect the light and consequently create different and multi-faceted patterns. In my most recent study, shadows play an important part within these informative structures. The contrast between light and shadows are a very simple kind of information (on/off) and allow us to visually perceive a 3D space and the arrangement of the objects in it.
  • Shadows complicate our perception, because our vision has to learn to differentiate between a border caused by light (a shadow) and a border that is independent of light (between a piece of white and a piece of black paper). If these were not possible, we would perceive shadows as permanent characteristics of an object. This occurs, though rarely, when the light border coincides with a dividing line that is independent of the light. In this case, our perceptual system is confused. This is why Leonardo advised other painters not to draw a line around a shadow contour.
  • I do not believe that there is an order of precedence for the senses. Although philosophers have, for a long time, been of the opinion that the sense of touch is the most reliable, there are also tactile illusions matching the visual ones. More recently, even the classification of the senses has been questioned. There are no reliable criteria for the exact definition of a ‘sense’. We do not know whether bats ‘hear shapes’ or ‘see with their ears’. Differentiation between the senses depends on our commonsense understanding, but this certainly cannot be a scientifically based differentiation.
  • Shadows are often a metaphorical source of myths related to the soul: like the soul, our shadows are dependent on our bodies (but not completely, since, we are not, after all, able to separate ourselves from our shadows). A shadow is immaterial and looks like the person who casts it, and so on and so forth. As long as this idea feeds our imagination, it will always be possible to generate myths about shadows or understand such myths as they are expressed in other cultures.

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