The practice has been interested in linking film and architecture for some time, firstly in Venice in 2008, then in the 2015 Dublin Cervantes exhibition celebrating the Cuadernos monograph which was based around three films on landscape and time set in plywood rooms- the films playing across the ply surface of each. When we were invited to exhibit work in Porto last autumn in a very site-specific location- the Alvaro Siza Sao Bento Metro beside the main railway station in the city- the exhibition took the form of three films about six recent projects; some are of their ‘place’; others construct one; all are influenced by template of nature, at the largest scale and the smallest scale of rocks, fissures and moss. Intended to be seen from one point, the films present the projects simultaneously but from different angles; they are about different architectural perceptions - as ideas, as realities, and somewhere between- perception enhanced by the monstrous capacity of drones.
One film shows the buildings on plan - the camera rolls over city and countryside; the buildings appear in passing- forms amongst many others, fields of grey or green amidst the secret empty spaces of the world; the second is about architecture as three-dimensional abstract model; the camera folds in, down and around looking from different angles and at different distances. The third is the smallest and stillest; time passes slowly; the camera is on the ground; the buildings are experienced in real time by the human eye. The viewer can look at the films singly, in sequence, or together; they are run at the same time and are looped- they run together on some occasions, but on others are left to ‘lose’ time against one another - different images appear with others at different times of the day, projects occasionally conjoined, occasionally separated, allowing similarities to surface without words.
Being interested in exploring real meaning in ‘place’, the practice made the project as much about the room as the content; in Porto the projectors were encased in a plywood box etched with project plans and views; film became the canvas, stretched across the walls and ceilings of an elegantly shaped and folded space where moving pictures – squares and rectangles of light- could distort or question the exact geometries. Like most transport interchanges, there is a necessary provisionality to Sao Bento – there is no destination, only ways in, out, up and down which can be reversed or repeated backwards. Locating films there asks questions of time; this is a space dedicated to regular arrival and departure- people enter and leave in waves; trains arrive and depart in accordance with fixed timetables. Film, or three films arriving and leaving at a different pace, disturbs the ground under this certainty and allows an alternative interpretation of the space.
The project started its return journey to Ireland with a brief exhibition in Dublin Castle Chapel in early March of this year; the same films –two projects of urban scale- Thapar University in the Indian Punjab and Trinity College in Dublin, two palimpsests- St Mary’s Museum in Kilkenny and the Military Archives - and two relating specifically to ideas of ‘constructed’ geographies- Beaufort Laboratory in Cork and Waterford Fire Station- were projected from the gallery of the Chapel over the walls and ceilings of the space. Here the implication of the coloured light was quite different; it had the awkward presence of asymmetric things in symmetric rooms – and a quality akin to stained glass and the floating, rippling imagery of the religious apparitions that gripped Ireland in the 1980’s. More particularly, it allowed an exploration of aged surfaces and Gothic form- the opposite of Sao Bento; completely contemporary space was seen across old materials. One film on the floor exposed the sectional difference between stones wearing away at different rates ; a second was positioned between two windows like a painting; the third was cut and shaped by the intricate weaving of the vault above.
ONE BUILDING - THREE VIEWPOINTS: