Author: Charles-Étienne Dery

Disruptive Vitrines: Reframing Geographic Vision

Studio: ARCH 5002 – Miniaturizing the Gigantic

Professor: Lisa Moffit

Year: Winter 2021

Project Description

Following thesis research, this piece reflects on the agency of cartographic, scientific, and artistic modes of representation in defining geographic imaginaries. Representational devices such as maps, vitrines, and landscape paintings all contribute to abstracting territories. Yet, these devices are what define the cultural understanding of vast landscapes. Through the creation of such objects, this project reframes the future of major Canadian Landscapes in light of anthropogenic dynamics and criticizes the idealization of the picturesque by collapsing various modes of representation. Five acrylic vitrines, corresponding to the five main ecoregions of Canada, sit upon CNC-milled topographic models. Each vitrine contains an iconic object; a digital artefact representing Canadians’ inherent geographic imagination of each ecoregion. The fish tank acts as a vessel for
these vitrines, while echoing the creation of catalogues and the fascination with natural history. The tank becomes a “tableau vivant”, condensing entire worlds and juxtaposing scales, allowing for an external gaze on these landscapes. Taking advantage of this shift in perspective, a series of experiments produce particulate clouds, disrupting idealized representation with the ominous presence of anthropogenic disturbances. Through the juxtaposition between the icon and the cloud, viewers visualize and speculate on the future environmental qualities that may emerge from these disturbances.