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Add to collection Share. Project team. Metaphor Interior Architecture. We use cookies on our website. By continuing to browse our website, you consent to our use of cookies in accordance with our cookie policy. I Accept. The viewer may blink once, twice, three times, and experience the slight unease that comes with feeling uncertain.

He no longer knows what exactly is taking place before his eyes, what is real and what is staged, what is asked of him as viewer.

It is notable how many of the photographs are panoramic, with differing ratios, images that are horizontally expanded from very slight expansions all the way to a format—that is, four times greater in length than in height. In conversation, Scott McFarland describes how he goes about creating these images.


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He places his tripod at eye level, mounts the 4x5-inch camera and then rotates it. He takes a picture, then rotates the camera once more and shoots again, repeating the process over and over. It is worth noting that he shoots in portrait format, at least most of the time, and then assembles these into long images in landscape format.

A series of portraits, portrait-format shots assembled in series, eventually becomes a landscape. Portraits of the landscape become a landscape portrait. Up until this point, his process is pure analog, but then the negatives are scanned into a computer and available as digital data, which are edited in Photoshop.

The camera image is loaded into the computer and the traditional wet process replaced by the new dry process; the digitized image provides the basis for a new canvas the term used in Photoshop , which is then worked on and processed: a hybrid that has become a new standard. Gregory Crewdson for example uses the same technical approach, although he does not rotate the camera.

And finally, the end result is digitally printed on fibre-rag paper on an Epson printer.

Of Blocks and Knots: Architecture as weaving

Large-format photographs grab our attention quickly. Instead, they seem to invite the viewer to lean back and get comfortable, almost as if he or she were sitting in a theatre and looking at the screen. They seem to be on the lookout. For acquaintances, friends, relatives? Posing for pictures? In any case, they are hardly waiting for opponents or aggressors; their attitudes are too relaxed. The granite bowl shows considerable wear and tear, signs of aging, underscoring the youth of the two figures.

Above all, they seem to be from another era, having somehow landed in this garden.

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The scene in the photograph gives the impression that it is a snapshot, but then we notice the young mother to the left, busy with her baby, while an old man with a dog on a leash is walking offstage to the right. The longer we look at it, the more the supposed snapshot morphs into a carefully orchestrated construct, a treatise on genesis and demise, symbolizing different life energies. Perhaps the gypsy girl with an accordion, visible at the middle ground of the photograph, is providing the musical accompaniment for the performance. The Boathouse with Moonlight stands at the edge of a forest facing the lake.

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It was shot in mixed light, the pale blue moonlight mingling with the yellow light from the cabin. The intensities of both lights are not all that different, with the cabin light only marginally more pronounced; no part of the image fades to black, everything is recognizable, albeit dimly lit, and registers what it represents. The two large double doors, painted white, are wide open. The layout and arrangement of the image makes the cabin—this illuminated cube with its three walls, two doors and a roof, delicately carved from the nature surrounding it—appear like a window in the forest, plainly constructed and secured so that rising waters present no danger of carrying it away.

A stack of tiles is visible in the background, ready for use in case any are broken or blown off by the wind.

The boat is missing—is it out on the lake or simply further along the shore? A series of small images seem to explore the cabin as a crime scene or an archaeological site. Caledon, Ontario , reads like a true panorama with a height of cm and a width of cm. The elongated field of view applies not only to the physical space but also to the passage of time. The cheerful skiers of the Caledon Ski Club seem to ski straight into early spring. The image merges winter and spring: to the left, the brightly clad skiers against a backdrop of snow and barren grey-brown trees; to the bottom right, the empty chairs of the lift, an early green on the ground and the delicate green of the first leaves unfurling on the trees.

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The image is more overtly than others composed of two or more photographs, which were shot over an extended period of time. With its inversion—spring appears more dull and pale than winter, as if the very energies of the seasons were reversed—the work exudes a melancholy mood. A contemporary Breughel, in which a long real time, concentrated and shortened, results in a peculiarly interwoven image time.


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  • A transitory image, whose situational now and shortening also transform it into a symbol of the Cheltenham Badlands in Caledon, of the gradual erosion and despoiling of the soil, stretching across the landscape like undulating, desiccated magma. A second panorama in this series contrasts the eternal winter of poor soil with the blossoming nature of spring. The eroded Badlands are as fallow and unserviceable as the modernist penguin pool at the London Zoo in Emptied Penguin Pool, London Zoo, May , Architect: Berthold Lubetkin, , which stands empty because it is an attractive piece of modern architecture, although absolutely unfit for animals if not downright hostile to penguins, as Scott McFarland explains in a conversation with James Welling, included in this catalogue: the floor surface of the pool designed and built by Lubetkin was too hard for the penguin eggs, causing them to crack.

    A beautifully curved, grandiose failure of modernism! The towering cacti in Echinocactus grusonii stand tall, bold and impressive before us, receding on a rising plane, arranged in rows like students for the annual class photo. The little ones sit in front, their tall peers to the rear. It is as if they had posed for the photographer, a kind of staged family portrait. But the image is also a colour photograph, that is, an image of colours. It is luminous, crisp, and cheerful, the countless shades of green—some subtly monochromatic, others boldly polychromatic—set off against the clear blue sky.

    The two Huntington panoramas, shot in different weather conditions and under varying skies, portray the botanical garden as a laboratory: vital nature and plants in bloom stand juxtaposed to cacti that have been pulled out and cut, an arsenal of the differing conditions of plants, of set pieces situated somewhere between nature and culture.

    Scott McFarland understands them as a pair, interpreting one image as more of an archive, the other as an exhibition. Set pieces we also encounter in the cemetery image from Now Orleans View from St. Roch Chapel, New Orleans , ; in that case, with a view across an interior to the exterior beyond, with models for monuments on the left side and the prosthetic limbs of the deceased, it seems, on the right. The images of Hampstead Heath are inspired by John Constable. Here, Scott McFarland varies his photographs with different skies, each image becoming an individual portrait of a kind.

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    It is especially striking when the landscape is kept to a minimum, nearly disappearing from the frame of the image at the bottom and surmounted by a vast dominant sky. An interplay of the sky, one that no longer relies on photographic materials, as was still the case with Gustave Le Gray in the nineteenth century, but rather a play on monotypes. The interplay between foreground and background makes the works in this series seem almost like originals. This almost transforms the images into abstract templates for a looming sky spectacle, one that is strikingly vivid, dramatic and theatrical.

    Women Drying Laundry on the Gorse, Vale of Health, Hampstead Heath is probably the most complex work in this series, where the movement of the clouds seems to be reflected on the ground because the women have draped their laundry across green shrubs to dry, thus creating a mirror image of the shapes in the sky. A dance of natural and geometrical forms on the surface of the image. The panorama Main Street Optics, Main Street, Southampton, New York , the central piece of the Hamptons series, appears to be based on a complex, chiastic play: Main Street Optics can be freely interpreted as the perspective of those who are caught in the tension between Main Street and Wall Street, between the contemporary moneyed nobility and the vox populi.

    Only this Main Street is located in Southampton and therefore happens to also be the Main Street of the Wall Street crowd, who flock to the town on weekends. The American flag flutters gently and reassuringly in the centre of the image, escorted by a sea of parked SUVs. Many people in the image are in motion and create the impression of a choreographed ballet, a performance, strolling, talking on their phones, shopping, without a financial care in the world.

    As the photograph was shot in glaring sunlight, the shadows, for once, are deeper and reveal that the figures were inserted from multiple view angles, caused by the rotating camera. The repatriation ceremonies at the Corner of the Courageous in downtown Toronto are held for fallen soldiers, fallen sergeants, fallen colonels, who lost their lives in service to the people. The state brings the dead back to their homeland, and the ceremony repatriates them before they are returned to their families as private individuals. Depending on rank, the unofficial honour guard seems to be more impressive, the crowd of saluting onlookers more populous, echoed in the number of teams of photographers and filmmakers, who document the event and, simultaneously, each other.

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    The death of the body also signifies the resurrection of the image, both the imagined and the photographed image. This journey through the different series of photographs and their models illustrates that we are following the work of a builder, an image builder and image narrator, who assembles his works into complex configurations, merging different elements and pouring them into a whole. Scott McFarland takes many, sometimes hundreds, of shots from the same vantage point, at different points in time, in rapid succession or far apart across several weeks.

    People appear and disappear, plants sprout, grow, and bloom, trees lose their leaves, objects are inserted into the scene and then removed. Thus people who have never met, who have never almost brushed against each on the street, ultimately encounter one another in the image, where the scorching sun and dark clouds appear in the same frame.

    Like a magician, like a demiurge, the artist connects different timelines with one another, bringing some forward and letting others recede, omitting a figure, introducing a woman, a couple, a group of people and inserting them perfectly into existing groups, into the envisioned configuration. On the one hand, he condenses time in the same place; on the other hand, he expands the space into time, creating a much larger dimension. To understand this process, we can imagine wafer-thin transparent films, stacked until they form a kind of transparent film box, a filmic Plexiglas box.

    Through the transparent stack, we can discern actions and presences at the same place across different timelines.