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PR Thomas Demand has remarked: “It’s the image of a real object, or the replacement of an object by its image, that interests me.”[1] There is no doubt that imaging can teach us to see reality with new eyes. But what is reality? Does imaging reflect reality? Is imaging authentic when it is regarded as reality? Our project is inspired by Demand’s video, Pacific Sun (2012), which examines society’s willing acceptance of mass-media imagery as a substitute for authentic experience. Our imaging of a series of digital models of the Barcelona Pavilion speculates on how media imagery could be a substitute for actual experience. 

Our animation is a zooming montage of renderings, photography, and audio that links several real spaces, stages a series of events and reveals a secret about space. The zoom passes through five scenes: 1) a model in Slocum Hall’s atrium, with people walking and voices resonating in the space, 2) an experience of the model as the exterior of the actual building, 3) an interior experience with odd furnishings and activities, 4) an accident with reflected light, and 5) a view by a security camera in the model, showing people peering inside.

AA The continuous but disjunctive zooming of our video, which converts involuntary attention into voluntary attention is a response to Barbara Maria Stafford’s speculation

that new media imagery can engage both types of attention: “what could be more

important than exhibiting how different experience-framing devices not only produce different kinds of information but make us think, feel, and desire differently[?]” She calls on us to “emphasize the value of those technologies that make us consciously aware that we are aware and fully attending.”[2] A second inspiration for our exploration of the complex relationship between spatial experience and imaging, is Antonio Damasio: “Ultimately consciousness allows us to experience maps as images, to manipulate those images, and to apply reasoning to them.”[3] In the first section of our project, we use rendering to simulate a scene in the atrium Slocum Hall, and use the sounds of that space to arouse and enhance feelings. As Damasio explains: “Brain maps are mercurial, changing from moment to moment to reflect the changes that are happening in the neurons that feed them, which in turn reflect changes in the interior of our body and in the world around us. The changes in brain maps also reflect the fact that we ourselves are in constant motion.”[4]

[1] Thomas Demand, “Interview: Constructing the Authentic,” 2012.   [2] Barbara Maria Stafford, “Seizing Attention: Devices and Desires,” Art History 39:2 (April 2016): 425.   [3] Antonio Damasio, “Making Maps and Making Images,” in Self Comes to Mind: Constructing the Conscious Brain, 67, Vintage, 2010.   [4] Damasio, 71.

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