Juxtaposition and overlap – of the familiar or pre-existing
A temporary installation (in collaboration with Nastaran Mousavi) in an old train station in Esparto, California, allowed us to play with ideas of memory, trace, and anticipation using methods of reflection and projection, as it is affected by perspective and juxtaposition.
Final project text as follows:
We were struck by the stillness of Esparto’s landscape, the quiet distance of the train station resting at the edge of main street, and the slow decay of untouched interior spaces. From conversations with the community, the train station was perceived as invisible, yet rich with latent memories. At present, it is hidden in plain sight at the town’s periphery, but also situated in front of a busy crossroad that leads one out of Esparto.
After visiting Esparto multiple times, interviewing the community formally and informally, and reflecting upon our personal experiences, we came up with two different sets of interests that complimented each other well. Nastaran’s personal interests had to do with finding a way to represent symbolic memories and experiences, conceptualizing the facade of the train station as a threshold that links various spaces, and exploring the interesting variety of surfaces, textures, and patterns found in the station. Tammy’s personal interests lay in the idea of spatially mapping memories and experiences (histories, layers, and traces), for example, mapping territories of occupation and activity (historical and present), mapping historical uses of the train station and main street, and exploring various ways light filters into the train station.
Our combined interests led to an attempt to extract an “invisible landscape” (physical, historical, and personal) out of these various scales of physical experience–landscape, building, and detail–that would relate to the historical and personal experiences that we collected through conversations with the community. These historical fragments, personal expressions, or memories would correlate to physical details of the building to create a physical surface, texture or pattern–a landscape that would reveal hidden memories in building details.
We were initially intrigued by these minute details of the old train station and wished to highlight interesting moments that we felt could easily be disregarded. Upon discovering a natural occurring camera obscura in the building, however, our ideas shifted and simplified. We understood the camera obscura as a mechanism to capture what exists in real time, reflecting it through a hole in a planar surface, and projecting it onto another surface as a slowed and murky image of reality. From this observation, we took the concept of reflection and projection that could link past, present, and future together.
For the final installation, we transformed the building into a threshold that reflects past conditions while projecting future potentials–the building as a camera obscura. We traced the second floor apartment onto the first floor waiting room using masking tape to delineate walls and openings recreating the “past” in the “present”. Carefully chosen “nodes” photographed from the second floor apartment are placed onto the first floor and punctuate the circulation sequence of the installation. The “nodes”, that when connected to each other through vision, create invisible networks representative of pasts and future. The ceiling dissolves as one experiences the past memories of the second floor apartment in the present waiting room.
Likewise, the corner wall and back wall of the space dissolves as two films puncture through the interior platform space and exterior train track space. A sped up film of the platform installation process lines up with the interior perspective of the platform space to suggest new activity and future change. Moving landscapes, captured from the journey from San Francisco to Esparto, on the adjacent corner project greater exterior connections–representative of past railroad connections and future connections to physical and representational spaces.
-Building Narratives, Spring 2012