On the edge of precision’s own shadow: parallax between reconstruction and reinvention
First and second supervisors
Parallax is a slippery term. It is, by its own definition, difficult to define: from the Greek parallaxis ‘a change’, which in turn stems from parallassein ‘to alternate’ and then from allos ‘other’, it is used to describe “the effect whereby the position or direction of an object appears to differ when viewed from different positions”. Parallax is about difference, about a space in between, a shifting relationship between points of view, between others.
The project proposes a design-research method using shifting notions of parallax within a practice oscillating between architectural historiography and design speculation. Parallax is fundamental to the geometric reconstruction of three-dimensional spatial positions from two-dimensional information and lies at the basis of technologies like photogrammetry. Starting from this metrological parallax, I extend the methodology to encompass notions such as historical, speculative and trans-optic parallax.
The method takes shape through a series of design-research investigations, which re-visit historical scenes – an unphotographable menswear shop by Adolf Loos (1898), an invisible wooden duck by naturalist painter Abbott Thayer (1909), a perverse rainwater pipe by Walter Gropius (1926), an elusive dance performance by Bauhaus choreographer Jakob Klenke (1927) –, re-seeing them not only from the vantage point of their own contemporary context but also, parallactically, from (historically, technologically, geographically) shifted positions.
Such parallactic shifts act as a critical device to re-examine the a-priori framing of the original vantage point, as well allowing for the recovery of “lost” spatial dimensions. At the same time, they create their own spatial and narrative undercuts and unknowns, shadow spaces in which parallax in turn can operate in a speculative and generative manner. It is at the edge of precision’s own shadow, at the intersection between reconstruction and re-invention, that the project unfolds.
Thomas Pearce has run The Bartlett's undergraduate Unit 8 since 2014 and previously tutored at the Architectural Association (2013-2017). After having worked extensively in practice as a specialist for digital capture, design and fabrication, he now works as an independent architectural designer within a changing network of collaborations.
Thomas holds a BA and MA in Cultural History (Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium), an Architecture BSc (Technische Universitat Berlin) and Architecture MArch (The Bartlett School of Architecture). Thomas' PhD research is funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council.
Image: ‘Jakob K. Der Neue Mensch’, by Thomas Pearce. Set design, video work and artistic collaboration with Mara Kanthak and performance makers Heike Bröckerhoff, Moritz Frischkorn, Jonas Woltemate. Performed at Kampnagel, Hamburg, May 2018. Photography by Anja Beutler.