Space in the Third Dimension

Reflections on how technology influences how space is conceived

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The way that space is conceived has always been a direct result of the architecture and technology available at any given time for its production and reproduction. Usually, when architecture is analysed, its abstract characteristics are considered to be timeless, but in fact technology facilitates its representation. Therefore, creating space conceptually has always been fundamental.

It may be too soon to know whether new technological tools will become more than mere forms of graphic expression, or whether they will also open up new ways of creating spaces. Without a doubt, the blurred boundary between the virtual and the physical is becoming a place of reflection and experimentation.

Random International’s Rain Room

Random International’s Rain Room is a 100-metre-square installation in which it rains constantly. The rain stops where visitors are standing, thanks to a camera system that precisely pinpoints their location. As the visitor advances across the electro-welded mesh floor, the rainfall appears to move away. The gloom and the lack of tangible spatial references alter their perception. The ‘rain’ is real, but it can’t be touched, although visitors can smell it, feel the moisture, and hear the familiar sound of rain falling on metal. In this environment practically devoid of other stimuli, the physical experience is intensified.

Rain Room Installation by Random International

Technological change doesn’t just bring us new tools. It is also transforming society, changing the internal relationships, which rationalise objects and the spaces in which activity happens; in other words, the ‘virtual’ as a ‘place’ with no physical presence, but in which functions that previously needed a material location can develop. In this way, these new relationships have multiply possibilities to connect, so their very nature changes. It is a transformation that is unfolding before our eyes, and opens up a world of new possibilities that design is only just beginning to explore.

Hidden Senses

Created by Sony Design, it was presented in the Fuorisalone at the 2018 Milan Furniture Fair, as part of an exhibition developed in partnership with Setsu & Shinobu ITO. It showed how technology could recreate, simulate, play with or complete sensorial experiences. Everyday objects, pieces of furniture and even the walls were transformed, and they reacted in unexpected ways when triggered by the spectator. Yes, the objects were real, but appreciation for them changed through the influence of the virtual. The jug is full of water: we feel its weight, hear the sound of the water being poured, and see the glass filling up. But it’s not real. The jug is empty and all that we feel has been induced. What happens may be fictional, but the sensations are real and need reality in order to be materialised – the object, memory and the perception of the moment – and to become more than a mere representation.

Hidden Senses installation by Sony Design

The profusion of computer-generated images, the ability to carry out online most activities that previously took place in the city, appear to be leading to a society that depends less on the physical. We are undergoing a transformation of what we consider ‘real’. However, materiality is still a requirement, as seen by the growing de-virtualisation of many digital companies. The challenge is to create new references, to give objects the potential to go beyond what we can see and touch. With regards to spaces, it is about overcoming the inert ‘container’ through architecture and technology, in order to create new places for personal and collective memory.

Daniel Canogar

Daniel Canogar has devoted considerable time to investigating precisely the surpluses that our culture generates, and how they relate to technology. The artist searches the ‘leftovers’ of culture for our memory and, ultimately, our essence. He attempts to build new images, forms, objects and spaces from these remnants. In Ripple he uses material extracted in real time from YouTube, material that has little value beyond the moment in which it is produced, and which creates liquid forms, changing and indifferent.

In Sikka Ingentium, Canogar has amassed images from 2,400 DVDs taken pretty much at random, the fragmentary visual culture which disappears though over-abundance, and projects them onto the discs themselves to create a fascinating space.

And in Echo, the screens respond to external stimuli, but the screen itself is transformed into a fetish object, regardless of what is shown, with cables and connections revealing the true nature of what is apparently flat.

Sikka Installation by Daniel Canogar

Ultimately, memory is the link between our identity and the world around us. A memory must be understood as looking back into the past, but as a projection into the future. If materiality continues to be necessary, it is because it resonates with our inner selves: our experiences, sensations and desires. Works of art, design, space or architecture all create new memories for the future. Design can create connections with the community. Art has always been part of a conversation, albeit diachronic, with our essence, and with the society and culture – whether technological or not – in which we move.


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