For Research. For Berlin.

Alex Arteaga

»Art is philosophy with different tools«

I would describe what I do as aesthetic research. The research environment is a hybrid, somewhere between art, philosophy, and architecture. What interests me is how architecture shapes our everyday experience and helps us understand the world as a meaningful ensemble. My goal is to overcome the classic duality between the built environment and our subjective experience of space. My model proposes a dynamic system in which individual and collective mean- ing is predicated on how we experience built space. It might sound very abstract at first, but with my research I want to help change how we “do” architecture. Basic research has the potential literally to change the world.

Over time, I have come to experience built environments as increasingly detached and closed off. They do not enrich our experience or help us interact with space. I believe it has to do with how we train architects. Architecture is taught as a two-dimensional approach that is heavily influenced by engineering. Basically, architecture is conceived as creating drawings and building spaces. That approach to training has many gaps. I want to offset that conception with an architecture that is based on how we experience space. Architecture as spatial artistry. It will require us to redefine and revalue subjective experience.

When I investigate architectural space, the approach I use is aesthetic fieldwork. I don’t assume a given reality that I find in a data set and run through a program once I am back in my office. Instead, I try to gain access to a space from an aesthetic angle. That lets me see processual aspects. It also prevents the space from appearing timeless. One example is performative video recordings that I make for different places. I show these videos where they originated as on-site installations. This superposition and medial shift opens up a dynamic perspective – we perceive how we actually perceive space.

My interest in perception stems from my artistic work. I always viewed perception as the substrate or basic material for my work. It is the fundamental moment of how we constitute the world by recreating it through our own experience. Working as an artist isn’t just about creating beautiful objects, but opening up new perspectives and new ways of experiencing the world. Art is basically philosophy with different tools.

Photo: Pablo Castagnola
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