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Beyond Surface Appeal

Beyond Surface Appeal

Literalism, Sensibilities, and Constituencies in the Work of James Carpenter

Edited by Sarah Whiting

ISBN 9781934510179

Publication date: 04/23/2012

Two essays and a set of original diagrams consider the parameters of the “something beyond” in James Carpenter’s projects. Architectural historian Mark Linder offers a long view of Carpenter’s work, placing his early career as an installation artist and experimental filmmaker in the context of contemporary art practices. Linder draws out the continuities between this early work and Carpenter’s current practice as a glass designer, demonstrating a consistent focus on literalism—materiality, spatial perception, and inhabitation—as opposed to phenomenological effect, expression, and representation. Architectural critic Sarah Whiting examines the sensibilities and constituencies that emerge from Carpenter’s practice. Rather than succumbing to the technique of Brechtian estrangement (which has become a default strategy for avant-garde practices in all domains), Carpenter gently eases his viewers into new constituencies. Perceptions and publics are altered, although these alterations are never dictated. Carpenter’s new worlds are not avant-garde but are more like dreams that embed themselves in the back of one’s mind, opening new possibilities without choreographing what those might be. Finally, Lucia Allais’s diagrams offer a visual means of reading Carpenter’s combination of technique and effect—his means of making light material and making material present. Photographs and extended captions from Carpenter complete this book’s documentation of key projects.

Authors

  • Sarah Whiting is Dean and William Ward Watkin Professor of Architecture at the Rice University School of Architecture.
  • Jorge Silvetti is Nelson Robinson, Jr. Professor of Architecture at the Harvard Graduate School of Design.

Book Details

  • 118 pages
  • 7 x 10 inches
  • Harvard Graduate School of Design
  • Foreword by Jorge Silvetti

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