May 20, 2013

Buildings Shaping the Sky

This world that we have around us is not a world that we perceive, more a world that we create and make. Now this seems a bit of a surprise because we really feel and we are very much attached to the fact that we are receiving these perceptions as opposed to creating them. But we do create the reality in which we live.
-James Turrell, Art 21 Exclusive
Romain Jacquet-Lagreze, a French-born graphic artist and photographer, features Hong Kong's ever growing city of rising buildings in his photo series Vertical Horizon. Inspired by the city's "architectural race to the sky," his photographs highlight the looming height of the buildings as they recede far above the viewer.

In contrast, the Parisian architecture of Sherif Elhage's 2009 photo series, From the Ground Up, is only a few stories high. And while Jacquet-Lagreze's photographs featured the depth of the sky above us, the starkly white skies of Elhage's series leaves a flatness that seems almost touchable. The subject of his series then is left a bit ambiguous. Is it the old buildings with their imperfect shapes and corners? Or is it the interesting negative shapes of the sky born around them?

On a bit more playful note, Thomas Lamadieu takes similar photographs and goes a step further. Using the shapes created by the tops of buildings to his advantage, the sky becomes a canvas for simple Microsoft Paint illustrations in his series SkyArt.

The three artists above observe and reflect upon the interaction between sky and architecture as well as man's unintentional shaping of the sky through development and growth. James Turrell (whose quote is featured at the beginning of this post) isolates the sky and light itself through simplicity of environment in his installation work Second Meeting. A tension between building and sky is rejected for a framing of the sky alone.

From the outside, Second Meeting is a simple white building with no extraordinary features.

Upon entering, the viewer is met with a simple square room lined with wooden benches. The majority of the ceiling is cut out revealing the sky above.

Second Meeting is a simple observatory in which sky and light are their own subject. It allows the viewer to experience their changing colors, depth, and intensity without distraction or environmental influence.

For an excellent video by Art21 of James Turrell discussing his piece click here and for the accompanying article click here. Also, thanks to Art21 on Tumblr for the excellent GIFs.

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