Christian Long

Liz Diller: Architectural Special Effects

In TED Talks on April 9, 2010 at 10:26 am

Reflection by HAGEN F.

Original TED page w/ speaker bio, links, comments, etc:

Liz Diller: Architectural Special Effects

Liz Diller, in her video, conveys how architecture is becoming more of an art that deals with effects that appeal to a person’s senses. Her organization focuses on creating buildings or designing objects that are unusual and that slowly challenge the common perception of architecture. Most regard architecture as creating something by using materials, but Diller and her associates are focusing on creating, in a sense, nothing. This is not the same idea of destroying, all though by destroying something else sometimes allows another idea to be created.

Diller also wanted to create something that would showcase the obvious, or the things we see everyday that we do not necessarily ‘see.’ In this sense by creating something we see everyday, in our perception, it is nothing. We take roads for granted because we never truly see them; they are unoriginal. By creating something ordinary to us and our perception no one really notices it, which allows it to be considered nothing. The designs that Diller creates do allow for notice, and then alter our view of that design’s ‘family.’

The first project that Mrs. Diller talks about is the ‘cloud’ that was created in Switzerland. The cloud was created by using water from the lake below the machine to force mist through about 35,000 fog nozzles. This process created a low ‘flying’ cloud that was slightly longer than an average football field. Diller called this “architecture of the atmosphere.” The cloud that was produced did exactly what Diller and her associates wanted, it created nothing. The normal cloud that was created exhibited the ordinary and thus showed us how clouds could be extraordinary. You have to believe that at least one person who saw that cloud looked up at the other clouds in the sky that day with a new ‘view’ on them. The cloud also concealed the machine that created it, creating a second instance of nothing. Clouds are everyday, Diller’s second point, and by creating just another ordinary object, and she has created nothing in two ways.

Next were Diller’s white walls in a museum that she was to design, which interested me quite a bit. This time Diller’s design was to create nothing by taking away the white walls that created an easy labyrinth in the museum ‘disappear very slowly. Through the help of robotics, holes, or in our case nothing, were being produced slowly. Once larger holes were created by, it opened up the viewing gallery by allowing people to view other exhibits through the holes. The whole process took about two weeks to complete and slowly the nothing created something.

The third project that Diller spoke about dealt with another museum on Boston’s waterfront. There was only one particular portion or room of this museum that I am going to concentrate on, and that is the “Mediatech” room. This room was angled to look down at the water running alongside the walkway that led to the actual building so that one experienced an odd perception of water. With no reference point to identify what the water was, it is hard to even perceive that the water is in fact water. The water may look like a technological design that was being projected on the wall for people to view. Diller explains that this is our perception of nature versus technology. Diller and her associates were playing with the distinction between nature and technology. They showed ordinary water as an art design; what is the necessary element for life now became an art.

The last project that Diller spoke about was the theatre in Tully Hall. This project was to renovate the theatre so as to better enhance the sound in the abnormally large theatre. With the original design, the sound moved down in alleys along the sides of theatres seating. Diller’s crew used a different type of wood that allowed keeping the sound in the hall and bouncing the sound so that all 11,000 people in the crowd could hear. This solved the sound problem, but not the special effect problem. Now, using another type of word to outline the theatre’s walls, the wood created different effects with light. The wood seemed to have light and dark spots based off the curvature of the wood, but it was only a slight curve that was necessary to create this effect.

By using architecture and creativity, simply ideas and everyday objects are being highlighted to produce extraordinary results.


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