Nick Reddon: “Sight Specific”

This student video was created as part of the Master of Architecture course ARC3017: Thesis Research and Preparation taught by Professor John Shnier. In this graduate level studio, Professor Shnier directs students to use film as a creative and iterative medium to explore their thesis discourse and research.

“Sight Specific” was created by Master of Architecture thesis student Nick Reddon who describes it as:

“My thesis research is related to but also departs in a significant way from theories of ocularcentrism that were prevalent in 1970s architectural discourse, encapsulated broadly by the axiomatic assertion that architects have for many centuries designed and valued buildings solely on their visual qualities. Architectural phenomenologists frequently degrade vision in their theoretical work and champion the importance of the other sensory faculties in the experience of architecture; studying acoustics, olfactory effects, material tactility and the likes in great depth.

I am, on the contrary, very interested in the eye and in images, but have somewhat counterintuitively dedicated my research to how and why our visual perception fails us. This capricious film, titled “Sight Specific,” is an experiment in how motion, colour, pattern, space, and text— which are fundamentally visual elements of the architectural experience— can produce optical illusions, mis-lead our assumptions about the realities of depth, perspective, and space, and ultimately deceive us. The viewer must somewhat knowingly accept the methodology and contrivance of the “effects” or “experiments” presented in this film and come to terms with the fact that what one sees— whether it be a retinal after-burn, an opponent colour inversion, or a peripheral drift sequence— cannot always be believed, but can be designed.“

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