1. SURFACE AND HUMAN APPEARANCE
“Does God judge us by appearances? I suspect he does.”
-W. H. Auden
Architecture appears to the world in the form of images: as our visual perceptions of the built environment, as imprints upon photographic negatives, in drawings, in ruins, and as flashes of memory. The visual dimension of architecture is inescapable; architecture appears within a human world, a world which it solidifies and encloses. This attribute of building, that is has the capacity, and the necessity to appear, is the one of the greatest powers of architecture. However, no appearance can truly be secure, and no reality can be truly real, without an observant world, in whose perception it must ‘seem’ to exist. If architecture is to bear meaning for the cultures which erect it, then its appearance, and therefore its existence must be guaranteed through its relationship with an autonomous public realm.
Therefore, what is the role of appearance, with regard to being? Is it merely secondary, an effect of a higher cause? Can appearance stake a claim to truthfulness, above and beyond its relationship to cause? Finally, to what extent is appearance the preserve of the visual, of the sensual realm of perception, and in which ways may it transcend that which we can only see?
Secondly, what is the appearance of architecture, namely, its surfaces? How should these epidermal constructions be treated, and regarded within the composition of a building? At what point do surfaces, as agents of appearance, gain autonomy from tectonic obligations?