The grey area

Penumbral reflections.

Penumbral reflections.

A convex mirror based on a 17th century landscape artist’s painting device was at the heart of an installation created by architects Sarosh Mulla and Aaron Paterson. The non-physical aspect of the installation involved light, shadow, projections and some really big ideas. Pictures by Samuel Hartnett
BLACK MIRROR: The large convex mirror at the heart of Auckland architects Sarosh Mulla and Aaron Paterson’s installation Penumbral Reflections will be relocated to Waikeruru Ecosanctuary at Longbush next year.

Exploration of the zone between the darkest part of the shadow and full illumination is a fairly abstract concept for most of us but for architects Sarosh Mulla and Aaron Paterson, penumbral shadow is their daily bread.

Mulla is known in Gisborne for his Welcome Shelter design, a modular building at the Longbush ecosanctuary. A major component of his and Paterson’s installation, Penumbral Reflections, is to be mounted next year at the sanctuary, now known as Waikereru.

Installed last month at Auckland gallery Objectspace, Penumbral Reflections was made up of an aluminium skeleton frame that housed a large, black, steel, convex mirror known as a Claude glass. The black mirror is named after 17th Century landscape painter, Claude Lorrain, and was originally a small, slightly convex, mirror. Artists in England used the device to observe a landscape in the tinted glass. The convex mirror simplified the colour and tonal range of the scene to give it a painterly quality.

Mulla and Paterson also incorporated architectural design principles into their concept for the cage-like cube. The principles are too abstract for the Guide to grasp but involve the use of grids.

“The structure was made by putting two grid designs through each other,” says Mulla.

“We put two grids through each other so we get places where there are unusual spaces.”

The result is a cubic form made up of vertical and diagonal bars. The steel circles in the centre of the base and ceiling of the structure add to a sculptural aesthetic in the work.

So far so . . . solid. Projected light and simulated shadow components integral to the concept make the work even more mind-bending.

The two architects took concept drawings they had made of the structure and created screenprints from them. The screenprinted images depict the geometry of the cage-like structure as well as anticipated ellipses and circles thrown by the black mirror. The prints were then run through a virtual reality 3D-gaming engine programme. Projected onto the gallery walls, the moving simulations of frame and mirror were reflected and distorted in the Claude glass.

“When viewed in the curved face of the Claude Glass, the projections produce two penumbral zones of half shadow, similar to what is seen in a lunar eclipse,” writes Chris Barton in Architecture Now. “The projections make parts of the aluminium frame silvery and alive as the moving animations crawl across its surface and produce unease about what is there – a game of spot-the-difference between simulated, real and spatial shadow.”

“In architecture, there is always a distortion or slippage,” says Mulla.

“That’s where the creativity, the uncertainty, lies and where readings of your work come out.”

Exploration of the zone between the darkest part of the shadow and full illumination is a fairly abstract concept for most of us but for architects Sarosh Mulla and Aaron Paterson, penumbral shadow is their daily bread.

Mulla is known in Gisborne for his Welcome Shelter design, a modular building at the Longbush ecosanctuary. A major component of his and Paterson’s installation, Penumbral Reflections, is to be mounted next year at the sanctuary, now known as Waikereru.

Installed last month at Auckland gallery Objectspace, Penumbral Reflections was made up of an aluminium skeleton frame that housed a large, black, steel, convex mirror known as a Claude glass. The black mirror is named after 17th Century landscape painter, Claude Lorrain, and was originally a small, slightly convex, mirror. Artists in England used the device to observe a landscape in the tinted glass. The convex mirror simplified the colour and tonal range of the scene to give it a painterly quality.

Mulla and Paterson also incorporated architectural design principles into their concept for the cage-like cube. The principles are too abstract for the Guide to grasp but involve the use of grids.

“The structure was made by putting two grid designs through each other,” says Mulla.

“We put two grids through each other so we get places where there are unusual spaces.”

The result is a cubic form made up of vertical and diagonal bars. The steel circles in the centre of the base and ceiling of the structure add to a sculptural aesthetic in the work.

So far so . . . solid. Projected light and simulated shadow components integral to the concept make the work even more mind-bending.

The two architects took concept drawings they had made of the structure and created screenprints from them. The screenprinted images depict the geometry of the cage-like structure as well as anticipated ellipses and circles thrown by the black mirror. The prints were then run through a virtual reality 3D-gaming engine programme. Projected onto the gallery walls, the moving simulations of frame and mirror were reflected and distorted in the Claude glass.

“When viewed in the curved face of the Claude Glass, the projections produce two penumbral zones of half shadow, similar to what is seen in a lunar eclipse,” writes Chris Barton in Architecture Now. “The projections make parts of the aluminium frame silvery and alive as the moving animations crawl across its surface and produce unease about what is there – a game of spot-the-difference between simulated, real and spatial shadow.”

“In architecture, there is always a distortion or slippage,” says Mulla.

“That’s where the creativity, the uncertainty, lies and where readings of your work come out.”

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