February 26, 2010
helenkeller historyshadow
Helen Keller Tower, Osamu Ishiyama, Hokaido, 2001 (source)


Osamu Ishiyama’s Helen Keller Tower, is a monument to the blind. As a braille library, the tower requires no light to fulfill its purpose. Cloaking the edifice in shadow, both through a jet-black surface treatment and by limiting light into the interior, Ishiyama asks us to remove our sight at the door. In place of light, Ishiyama gives us sound. Wind instruments attached to the exterior facade causes the tower to whistle in the breeze. A series of waterfalls, rain gutters, reverberate through the interior whenever it pours. Tumbling gravel and creaky wood floors resonate at every step. The tower, as much an instrument as it is a building, is a dignified response to a difficult architectural problem: creating meaningful space in the absence of light.


E. Sean Bailey


History’s Shadow GM5, David Maisel, Work in Progress (source)


David Maisel trained as a landscape architect and often references this education in his work as a photographer. His landscape photography operates at a variety of scales, from aerials of mines, clear cutting and urban sprawl to portraits of weathered copper canisters containing the remnants of cremated psychiatric patients. His most recent series of photographs, titled History’s Shadow, documents x-rays of objects from antiquity. The x-rays are a product of the conservation process that provides insight into the structural integrity of the objects themselves, revealing ‘losses, replacements, methods of construction, and internal trauma’ that may not be visible on the surface of the object. With his History’s Shadow series Maisel has found a way of revealing a physically inaccessible internal landscape through the interaction of darkness and light. Taking Maisel’s propensity for working at various scales, this technique could have incredibly insightful results if applied to buildings.


Erandi de Silva






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