For BREATHTAKING: Constructed Landscapes, a 2012 exhibition at Toronto’s Harbourfront Centre, curator Patrick Macaulay commissioned our architectural practice and two others to question architecture’s role in the experience of the natural world. A quotation from Juhani Pallasmaa inspired us: “Focused vision confronts us with the world whereas peripheral vision envelops us in the flesh of the world.” Our installation, Lenticular Curtain, was an immersive environment for infusing, inhabiting, and amplifying the landscape.
Essentially a multi-layered curtain enclosing an oval footprint within a square, the 10.5’ by 10.5’ installation consisted of double-sided, panoramic photos, spliced into 1,600 image strips. From the outside, visitors saw a forested landscape from Northern Ontario. Visitors who parted the curtain-like strips of trees and ventured inside found themselves immersed in a 270-degree panoramic Atlantic seascape of Peggy’s Cove, Nova Scotia.
The forest and seascape images were repeated on multiple overlapping, precisely positioned layers. Like those old-fashioned, plastic postcards that appear to show movement when you move your head, this created a lenticular effect. Breezes created by visitors’ movements caused the image strips to move and sway, bringing the landscape and seascape to life—to the point that some viewers experienced vertigo.
In the interior, a log provided seating, allowing people to linger and immerse themselves in the space. From the exterior, exclamations of surprise and delight could be heard, luring other intrigued visitors into the concealed interior.
This installation challenged us to think about how landscapes might be framed, unravelled, and reconstructed to create a sense of wonder and uneasiness: being immersed in a landscape can create resonance at the periphery of our perception.
Lenticular Curtain was reinstalled at The Centre for American Architecture and Design, University of Texas, as part of their 2013 exhibition CURTAINS, curated by Michael Benedikt.