Sou Fujimoto’s House_N is the realization of Cezanne’s thought in architecture, in the third dimension.

“Perspectiva” is a Latin word, meaning “to look through”. The geometry of rays book is developed by Ibn al-Haytham as a result of numerous optical experiments with light rays in the 10th century caused the perspective that followed the rules which developed when his book was circulated in Europe as a painting technique in the Renaissance and the perspective that defines the measurable as beautiful and accurate from the Renaissance period to the 20th century, it has been a method of painting the object, nature and human exactly. In Panofsky’s words, perspective is a constructed way of looking. The invention of photography, being culturally saturated with perspective painting, the occurrence of similar developments in the scientific field of the age, such as the disintegration of the atom, whether we are aware of it or not, are parallel developments to the formation of “Cubism”, which is called a revolution in the artistic field. “A painting,” Picasso said when speaking about his art, is “a collection of destructions”.

Cubism is considered a revolution in art. While describing the success and failure of Picasso, John Berger says that the preparations for the Cubism revolution were started by Courbet and Cezanne in the 19th century. He explains that Cezanne is aware that the pictured appearance of something is not the same as having actually experienced it, because as the perspective changes, the image of the seen object will change as well.

When Cezanne turned his head a little to the right, he realized that he was seeing another side of the thing in front of him than when he turned his head a little to the left. Every child discovers this by closing one eye and then the other while lying in bed. Since painters first paint nature, every painter must have observed this. The difference is that Cezanne found this important.

Sensing that the changes he observed were significant when he turned his head a little, Cezanne went towards a synthesis of these different situations instead of painting either one or the other; a solution that accepts both at the same time, on the same canvas.

Cézanne-Trees by the Water (1900–04)

When Cezanne changed his point of view a little bit, one tree was transformed into several possible trees by painting his variations on canvas. In the painting “Trees by the Water”, the order is established among the possibilities offered by different perspectives. A new kind of certainty — certainty based on the acceptance of doubt — was created. Nature in painting is no longer something laid out before the viewer to examine. Now painting includes the spectator, the evidence of his senses, the ever-changing relations between himself and what he sees. Before Cezanne, every painting was to some extent a glimpse through a window. Cezanne, on the other hand, took the first steps towards destroying perspective by adding moments that can be seen at different moments in his painting. The important thing here is that the situation in real life, our state of looking at different aspects of the image at every moment, is included in the picture.

Cezanne raised the issue of simultaneous viewpoints; thus, he removed the possibility of a static view of nature from art, never to come back. Continuing what Cezanne started, the cubists began to draw all objects with geometric shapes such as cubes and cylinders, creating a system in which they could visually reveal the interweaving of views. Thus, in art, it was possible to reveal processes instead of static states of existence. The art of dynamism emerged from we acted in real life instead of in all kinds of static categories.

When looking around a person looks around with a virtual visual pyramid which is not exactly the same, but because his eye can perceive a certain angle. When we look out the window, we cannot perceive the whole street at once, as we turn our heads, we perceive the surroundings as much as our visual pyramid allows. It is the visual pyramids in horses are so wide that by wearing blinders, it is prevented from perceiving the whole environment and it is tried to stay on the road. Cezanne was painting images that change every second with this visual pyramid.

Visual pyramid

The central perspective actually starts from an unspoken very basic premise: that we are looking at it with one immobile eye. But in reality, even if the human does not move, the human eye moves, changes the point of view; The visual pyramid does not stand still, it changes.

There are cartoons that humorously address the visual pyramids that form as we move our eyes, even on the road, in terms of the perception world of men and women. When a woman encounters another woman, she looks from head to toe and creates many visual pyramids in seconds. The two men exchange a glance with a single visual pyramid. The pyramid we are talking about here is a shape that is not like the equator, a shape that we cannot get out of when we look at it due to the human eye’s capacity to see.

Pyramids of vision formed by eye movement

When we first see Sou Fujimoto’s design, which he calls House_N, it makes one think with what inner impulses one would want to design such a house like that. What is at issue here is more than the simple nesting of the matryoshka arrangement. There is a way of capturing different moments different glances of the eye in each box and bringing them together in a house in the nested arrangement of three hollow boxes.

House N

Let’s imagine that these spaced boxes which are nested inside each other were made one by one one after the others. Let’s suppose at first that only the smallest box, which is the innermost, exists. The street perspective that can be seen with our visual pyramid when we look out through the gaps in the smallest box will be different from the street perspective that would be seen when there is only the second box in the middle. In the case of only the third box, the street perspective that we will see through the gaps on the box differs from the perspectives of the first and second boxes. In these three cases where the boxes exist individually, the perspectives seen from the wall spaces actually correspond to different moments created by the movement of the eye. If there were no boxes, the images that we can see with our every eye movement as biologically allowed by our eyes were created simultaneously in these three boxes by placing them with spaces as their scales grew. The perspectives that our eyes naturally see at different moments in the measure of our pyramid of vision were created in the same structure by breaking up the number of walls of a house by three and by changing the positions of the windows which are our way of looking.

Sections of House N-each box represents different perspectives seen at different moments individually through its spaces.

Combining different visual pyramids at different scales - section of House N

The simultaneous acceptance of perspectives seen at different moments and combining them in one space did what Cezanne did in the painting, in Fujimoto House_N; Different perspectives were not designed in different projects, but in the same project, as in the “Trees by the Water” painting, the building envelope, which normally consists of a single wall, was designed at the same time and fragmented by increasing it outward. While this fragmentation laid the foundation of Cubism in painting, it created secondary spaces in the relationship between interior and exterior in Fujimoto’s architecture. Fujimoto’s method here (an estimation seen from the outside as an architect) has been his application of the change in perspective perceived with the change of gaze, in a project, in a space, like Cezanne. With each box, the areas that people will see with the visual pyramid in their changing gaze at different moments are provided with windows as spaces and a solution that accepts all three at the same time as in Cezanne’s painting is defined as a new order as a single building shell becomes three possible building shells. Fujimoto’s House_N is the embodiment of Cezanne’s thought in architecture, in the third dimension, by combining the building envelope with spaces that allow to see the environment, changing in location and scale.

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