Reel Qualities

Henry Liu

  • Subject: Architecture
  • Level: undergraduate

2D architectural representation is changing rapidly and becoming a key part of architectural communication. Reel Qualities is a project that analyzes the qualities of representation and attempts to translate these qualities into the physical world. Oftentimes architecture is represented in a way to “tell a story” or generate a “feeling” but the final product is, at best, a diluted translation of what the drawings promised. This investigation began by translating a physical object, a fishing reel, into 2D space. The reel was drawn in a way that maintained its identity as a fishing reel, but began to show qualities that were only possible in 2D. These qualities were extracted and intensified in a series of drawings that would only show qualities achievable in 2D. Borders between objects suggested flatness instead of space, the literal background becomes context, and materials become purely graphic. A series of characters was designed to bring this investigation back into the physical world. There was no right or wrong way to do this, and there was no calculated system to quantify a quality. But what was fascinating was the general agreement amongst viewers that certain qualities were more apparent in one character than others. Once it became clear which one was the closest relative of the drawings, the character was physically built. Once again, qualities that were not in the 2D space showed up in the physical object, and these qualities were then analyzed and brought into a larger scale, an inhabitable space. The project ultimately resulted a series of follies that may or may not resemble a fishing reel, but contained qualities that were only uncovered by mistranslations of 2D representation.

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