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Surface as Depth

Part 2 Project 2005
James Rossa O'Hare
University College Dublin, Ireland
If we project ourselves onto the 'screen' of the world then we find ourselves living within the thickness of a representational surface. This is not a process of mere planar projection but the means by which the imagination is materialised.

In 'A Sedimentation of the Mind', Robert Smithson suggested applying the concept of phenomenal transparency to the ground plane. This 'sub-urbanism' would expose the territorial substrate beneath the cultivated surface.

My intention was to inhabit the space between surface and depth.

This space is a positivity - like a body of water. The sense of spatial immersion can only be experienced immediately - it is 'ineffable', which is to say it cannot be re-presented. The challenge is to use the image and the surface as a means of projecting the immaterial into the world.

James Rossa O'Hare

James Rossa O’Hare’s thesis project draws on a wealth of theoretical and philosophical material about the presentation of self to develop an architecture in which surface and depth are co-extensive. Beginning with a series of explorations of systems of projection, of the spaces of presentation and of masks, James then focussed on the nineteenth-century seaside town of Dun Laoghaire. Its florid character, its assocations with leisure and pleasure and with the coming of the railway proved prefectly suited to the sensibility of his work. Having re-invented Teddy’s Ice-cream Parlour, James turned his attention to the People’s Park, proposing to excavate a new public space beneath its nineteenth-century paths and lawns. This space would link the town back to the sea, and would reinvest the surface of the park with depth. A detailed consideration of the structure of the space gave the project a further impetus, generating a kaleidoscopic realm of rhythm and light below the sedate nineteenth-century park. While the resolution of James’s project is impressive, what is most memorable about the work is the range and depth of its cultural references and the nimbleness and precision with which they are deployed. It is no accident that Manet’s Dejeuner sur L’Herbe is re-enacted in James’s new pleasure park, for this is a project in a similar spirit, fascinated by the relationship between the natural and the artificial, buoyed by the abundance of new technologies, convinced of the mutual dependence of surface and depth. Oscar Wilde would have approved.

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