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Architecture Of Depth: Gravicells as a critical spatial practice in the 21st century

2017-11-20
Choi, Jung E.
This essay provides a comprehensive analysis of Gravicells (2004), by Seiko Mikami and Sota Ichigawa as an architectural experimentation of the twenty-first century media that materializes virtual dimensions of our spatiotemporal experiences. This project explores points of overlap and spaces of co-operation between art, architecture and technology that operate as experiential interfaces generating alternative experiences of space. In particular, this essay examines virtual operations behind the perception of space that reveals itself as the primordial spatiality grounding the interconnectedness of bodies and spaces through affective engagement in Gravicells. By inviting participants into a data-saturated environment that visualizes gravitational relations, Gravicells offers an affective experience of the intrinsic interconnectedness of the space and the participant's body as well as a sense of space that opens up across time and space. To unpack this complex spatiotemporality of the embodied experience of Gravicells, the essay provides a phenomenological reconstruction of the notion of depth. Challenging academic and conventional designations of the notion of depth and reconstruct its phenomenological dimension that comprises both distance and voluminosity; distance reveals the immediate link between the subject and the world, while voluminosity describes an atmospheric dimension that indicates the possibility of voluminous bodies involved in the world. As both an origin and a means of enveloping the subject in the world, depth is best understood as the general milieu or primary condition that grounds the continuous inter-implication between body, time, and space; depth supports their envelopment, while they are fundamentally all structured in depth. In this study, thus, depth is no longer treated as an abstract geometrical space that is indirectly inferred from two-dimensional retinal images but as the primary spatial medium that supports the coexistence of the world. By materializing the structure of depth, Gravicells radically reframes the sense of space, and surfaces our understanding of the ways in which we define ourselves in relation to others and environments.12