Relative positioning

Mike MCKAY*1

*1 University of Kentucky College of Design


How we see and understand the world is directly affected by our position in it. Constellations are simply the result of cognitive alignments related to our location in the universe. The horizon or a sunset is simply a visual construct based on proximity and time. It is possible to harness the power of position through anamorphic projection and perspectival techniques in determining a space where one can engage in a new architectural experience.

Architectural illusion and perspectival deceptions have been investigated since antiquity in order to alter the perception of a given space. From the Early Renaissance these techniques have been used primarily in an illusionary or optical manner and have never been directed at the creation of physical space.

Specifically, Anamorphic projection techniques in architecture offer the potential to create dynamic spatial experiences that are three-dimensional and go beyond simple projections; more than images/shapes simply painted onto an architectural surface. By using this process to make space, a reading of space emerges that is

both real and perceived. The forms exist in three dimensions (real, physical) but are perceived via procession and emergent perceptions. Much like the diagonal movement through Villa Savoye or the emergent space created by Matta-Clark’s cut, views and alignments seek to add value, a new ‘something’...a new reading of the space, a perceptual shift.

The apparent flattening of space through material qualities and the formal techniques of RELATIVE POSITIONING make it possible for a duality of visual perception to occur. These tensions of object-qualities elicit a spatial ambiguity that puts pressure on the ‘real’ and opens up a world of wonder and excitement. We become participants in this new environment. Here it is OK to question where illusion is physical and ambiguity is desired.