Hong Kong architects MAP Office have installed a point for viewing the city through two pairs of binoculars in Hong Kong as part of the Shenzhen & Hong Kong bi-city Biennale of Urbanism/Architecture, which opened this week.
Called Bloody Haze, the installation consisted of two pairs of binoculars, one turned the wrong way round, mounted inside two cylindrical frames.
Visitors can look through each in turn to see the city appear alternately closer and further away than in reality.
Here's some text from the architects:
MAP OFFICE for HK_SZ bi-city biennale 2009
Inverted Binocular and Maxi Binocular
MAP OFFICE [Gutierrez+Portefaix]
“As far as I am concerned, I try to direct my telescope through the bloody haze upon a mirage of the nineteenth century, which I seek to depict according to those features that it will show in a future state of the world liberated from magic.” Walter Benjamin, Briefe, Vol. II, Letter to Werner Kraft, of 28 October 1935.
Notion of visibility and invisibility are centered to “Bloody Haze”. The predetermined intensification of the magnifier allows the construction of a new reality. The distortion by means of optical instrument: the binocular create an illusion of being close or being far while always being at the same position. Shooting or murmuring at someone mediated by this inverted projection. The multiplication of the reality is here reinforced by the instrument itself, i.e., the 2 lenses and then again multiplies by 2 in ordered to experience the two extremes variations: so far... so close – always together but never together!
Then, the skyline or the subject of this optical experience is the mere illustration of capitalistic development to become its best representation. The celebration here takes the shape of a fragmented heroism. Each of its components disappears for the construction of singular masse that is aiming at becoming a single mediated image to acquire its status of Skyline and to become hyper visible (when the weather allows it).
The two binoculars are mounted on a fix pole overlooking towards the skyline. The skyline is the physical graph of a successful economic development of Hong Kong. The two binoculars are pointed at the same direction; one is positioned in close-up mode while the other is offering the large open view. One is excluding the other with the impossibility of having the range of perspective.
MAP office is a multidisciplinary platform devised by Laurent Gutierrez (Casablanca, 1966) and Valérie Portefaix (Saint-Etienne, 1969). This duo of artists/architects has been based in Hong Kong since 1996, working on physical and imaginary territories using varied means of expression including drawing, photographs, video, installations, performance and literary and theoretical texts. Their entire project forms a critique of spatio-temporal anomalies and documents how human beings subvert and appropriate space.