Tuesday, January 24, 2006

New Views

Architecture gives people new views that could not have been attained without the built structure. My apartment room window looking out into the trees could only have been imagined by the architect before having been created by the building or some other structure that augmented the human view by relocating the body in space (such as a very high ladder).

Cars, mobile vehicles, even bicycles, give also a new view of perspective on the landscape that is unattainable without them. Airplanes also give a new view, but theirs’ is particular. Objects totally detached from the Earth’s topography, airplanes have a very different continuity to ground-based perspectives.

Looking out of an airplane window, one’s body position has no real fluid continuity to the contextual topography of its surrounding landscape. Looking out of my apartment window into the campus forest feels normal, natural, and the fact this view could not have been seen before does not immediately strike anyone—there is a fluid sense of mobile continuity between the new view position and the surrounding landscape, that of which is part of the view. View and viewer-location share a common context. Airplanes dislocate this, taking the body and the view to unattainable heights.

The closest ground-rooted experience to this airplane dislocation in physical architecture is the skyscraper. Looking out into the city from high above, the view’s vertical projection and height above the Earth’s topography surpasses the immediate sense of contextual normality for the body; but still continuity is reached: the building is touching the ground, fluid movement between the skyscraper office high above on the 365th floor and the ground can take place, and the city seen within the view shares a lasting contextual relationship to the skyscraper’s space. A grander example of the tree-top view I see from my apartment window.