Low-Relief: The virtual and material cultures of architectural deceit was an experimental architecture studio doubling as museum exhibit. Offered in the spring of 2018 the studio was hosted by the Carnegie Museum of Art in the Heinz Architecture Gallery where the activity of the studio was on full display to museum visitors. Exhibited under CMoA’s Copy + Paste, students were charged with curating their own work as it unfolded throughout the semester and filling the gallery with artifacts that spoke equally to the process and final products of architectural design. The studio leveraged the museum’s large architectural plaster cast collection, research on historical craft, and contemporary applications in robotic plastering making and historical research as primary vehicles for inquiry.
Low-Relief explores the material cultures of deceit in architectural design and construction. Architects have long deployed an array of techniques to trick the senses, including the use of faux materials, forced perspective, and media applied to walls and ceilings. The studio positions architectural illusion not just as a visual technique, but as a precise shaping of physical material and the blending of hybrid media forms in three dimensions. The motivation for Low Relief originates from the proliferation of virtual reality in contemporary media, and seeks to position the built environment as a proto virtual interface. If a latent virtuality exists in architecture’s past, then can historical precedent frame the use of emerging digital technologies to explore new expressions of architectural duplicity?