• Specular Associations

    Sierra HELVEY, "Specular Associations."
    los angeles CALIFORNIA

    advisor: Marcelyn GOW.

    Describe your project.

    Sierra HELVEY: Specular Associations is a center for visiting scientists located at the Kitt Peak Observatory. It exposes the reflective and active nature of the index though drawing comparison to the phenomenological characteristics of transparent material.

    The Index acts as a construct that enables one to see the unseeable. . . It is inherently a figure of memory, though unlike the icon, does not need to be recognizable in order to maintain its architectural function. It comes from but does not represent the thing from which it is derived. Rather than repeating, the index acts as a frame enabling a type of registration of the multiplicity of a subject in time. Like an aperture or viewing device the index acts as a selective lens, creating a new way of seeing or understanding a subject with access to an alternative territory.

    Revisiting indexical operations at their fundamental level, created from the convergence of form and phenomena, this project departs from Eisenman’s non-material Euclidean framework, in search of an indexical form that embraces material natures, and non-rational forms.

    Sited in the Arizona Mountains, this project’s uses a rock rather than a cube as its initial “primitive” or “base unit”. Though isolating the rocks surface geometry by wrapping it in glass, the new form becomes something now rendered through reflected and refracted light, rather than shade and shadow, or lines and edges. In a sense all manners of description of this new object are subject to the nature of glass, and arbitrary geometry of a rock.

    Glass as a material creates degrees of visual clarity through its ability to bend light. Terance Riley in the book light construction, refers to the physical phenomena of light passing through a transparent surface as the actual “slowing“ of light, quoting physicist Richard Feyn. The degree of visual delay is dependent on the character of the glass itself. The more textured and bumpy the more delay occurs. Alternatively the more planar the more transparent the glass. Thus transparent materials like glass must deny themselves of formal articulation in order to provide clearer depiction of what is seen behind them, trading transparency for formal pronunciation.

    This phenomenon parallels the nature of indexical form itself in that both transparent materials and indexical form create a specific relationship between what is seen,and what is unseen.

    sP: What or who influenced this project?
    SH: The contemplation of the finite and the infinite in Hiroshi Sugimoto, Different Oceans, Same Portraiture photographic series; Christo and Jeanne-Claude’s land use; and NASA space imagery.

    sP: What were you reading/listening to/watching while developing this project?
    SH: Reading Timothy Morton, HyperObjects; Denis Cosgrove, “Liminal Geometry and Elemental Landscape: Construction And Representation”; and Peter Eisenman, “Digital Scrambler.”

    sP: Whose work is currently on your radar?
    SH: Herzog & De Meuron, Snohetta, Morphosis, and Servo.

    Additional credits and links:
    Thesis Advisor: Marcelyn Gow.
    Thesis Statement Advice: Todd Gannon and Benjamin J. Smith.
    Thesis Helpers: Eva Huang, Ava Ghiassi, Bhavin Kothari, Vestalis Pizarro, and Cassandra Tavolarell.


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