by David ChipperfieldJun 04, 2019
I often use art as a wider frame of reference for architecture; its tools can be used to discover tangential realities that afflict daily life. Central to sketching, photography, writing and sculpture is the common idea of elaboration, to set out a frame for yourself, that includes people, private attitudes, city places and incidents, even politics – all things that occupy architecture. Every day I like to surround myself with bits of writing, pencil drawings, fiberglass figures, molded mud and wax. To create a continually changing residue of visible matter around me that lets me know that a process is on towards some unknown end. Like the necessary bits of evidence in a legal battle, they help me build my case in a court where I am the accused, the plaintiff, the jury and judge. For such a task drawing is a critical experimental medium whose explorative tendency had to be liberally exploited. Yet it wasn’t easy. Often, I was afraid that if I drew something that was too easy to draw, it wasn’t worth doing. So I chose to err on the side of speculation; to become an architectural astrologer, where I’d lose control of all thought and action on the drawing board. Sometimes when drawing, I would try and imagine what a collaboration between various buildings or parts of building may be like, and indeed how it might be represented in drawing. Away from conventional representation, drawing became a sort of rebellion against the limits of space. It explored possibilities of extreme views: at one end, a confinement so narrow and stifling, it required release and exposure, and at the other, a boundlessness that receded endlessly to the horizon, in which people and buildings were miniscule. As if all human endeavour - defined by people, trees and buildings - was merely an engraving in the vastness - the earth empty and expressionless, without sound or form or shade. The emptiness creates only hints. A rootless object appears in space - a human being, a tree, a building, a shadow. The drawing constructs a relationship between them.
Sometimes the shadow defuses the space itself, sometimes shadow is used to root things to the earth. Does architecture exist if it casts no shadow?
(This article was first published in Issue#19 of mondo*arc india journal - an initiative by STIR.)