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The Greenwich Archives

Part 2 Project 2009
Dominic Wilson
University of Nottingham
The term 'baroque' has recently seen something of a rebirth, now often applied to the fashion-fuelled and fetishistic architecture of the 'post-problematic' digital parametric era. This project started with a reappraisal of Baroque ecclesiastical architecture. Confronted, initially, with an understanding of the decentered post-Copernican cosmos and its symbolic resonance in the proliferation of anamorphic forms in art and architecture, it led to a recognition of perspectival distortions as expounding the reciprocal relationship between the depicted and the viewer. As such, the symbolic nature of drawing (and architectural representation) became a primary focus.

Drawing inspiration from the programmed and theatrical lighting of the Baroque Gesamtkunstwerk, coupled with the notion of the Baroque Church as a participatory theatre (methexis), a system of drawing was developed in which the pictorial space of the paper is transformed into the three-dimensional space of the depicted. The embossed drawing demands the necessarily dialectical nature of light in counterpoint with shadow, representative, respectively of sky and earth.

The proposal develops along a symbolic understanding of the 'horizon of visibility' – the line of conflict between earth and sky which stands as analogous to the conflict between the pursuit of earthbound geometry, and heavenward faith. This inherently representable continuity (unity) is intrinsic to the horizon, which serves as a datum in much the same way as the non-substantial meridians of Greenwich.

Sited at Greenwich, my proposal (substantially subterranean) attempts to reinstate architecture's reconciliatory mode, echoing, yet attempting to visually break down the post-Cartesian dualism through respective embodiments in an Archive and Chapel. The Archive, containing the written word embodies reason, whilst the Chapel, containing the Word [of God], embodies faith. In each case, the programme is concerned with the making visible of the word.

Similarly, the Renaissance understanding of the book as containing the world, is echoed in the architecture of the Church – a system of cosmological order. Both are fuelled by the now redundant site whose purpose was once the mapping of the 'heavens'.

Dominic Wilson

Mr Graham Farmer
Mr Bradley Starkey
Mr Jonathan Hale
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