The aesthetic plane in space

Felice Varini (1996)

Felice Varini (1996)

My interest in the geometric plane within a three-dimensional space probably stems from it existing as a concept without true precedent in reality—yet, unlike the pure, unsituated two-dimensional surface, it simulates an aspect of reality, namely a spatial arrangement conveying, or representing, an experience. As such, it exists at the threshold of the real, yet is at the same time inherently conceptual.

The plane in space is a concept I have seen represented, and have myself attempted to articulate, in a variety of media. It is the embodiment of a simulation—coexisting within our perceived real environment. Like the ornate building facade that diverts attention from the plain side and back elevations, it has a privileged perspective or vantage point. It is both architectural and flat—a conceptual hybrid. It is a membrane without depth, an extension of space that raises questions of perception and authenticity.

The use of the plane in a spatial context has appeared prominently in the works of minimalist artists Fred Sandbeck and Carl Andre. Recently, I came across two artists exploring similar formal notions in their work.

Annett Zinsmeister, outside_in / virtual interiors (2007)

Annett Zinsmeister, outside_in / virtual interiors (2007)

Annett Zinsmeister, outside_in / virtual interiors (2007)

Annett Zinsmeister, outside_in / virtual interiors (2007)

By mapping exterior facades to the walls of a simulated interior space, Annett Zinsmeister plays with the idea of a privileged perspective, wrapping a repetitive texture created from a building facade onto all interior elevations of a room and creating an inhabitable space from a two-dimensional plane. Her renderings create the feeling of being enveloped by the skin of the building: subverting the expectations of exterior and interior space and creating an immersive, three-dimensional trompe l’oeile.

Felice Varini (2008)

Felice Varini (2008)

The work of Felice Varini deals with concepts such as vantage point, focus and framing. As such, his body of work has been said to occupy the intersection between painting and photography, inverting the relationship of image and space to treat any space as a screen. Writes Roberta Mazzola: “Varini utilizes light projection of a drawing in space, which is then ‘pictorially’ retraced, like a copy, a print of a slide, reversing the illusionistic import of the projection and giving space the role of a ‘screen’, a place where a certain visibility is offered.” Also apparently situated in a trompe l’oeile tradition, Varini’s work seems concerned with framing or accentuating particular aspects of a space, calling attention to features that become visible when seen from a particular vantage point, or augmenting the view with forms that allow for the reinterpretation of a scene. The theatrical, performance-based aspect of Varini’s work seems equally important, in that he compels the viewer to physically move to a particular prescribed position within a space.

Sarah Pickering, Behind Flicks Nightclub (2004)

Sarah Pickering, Behind Flicks Nightclub (2004)

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