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(Archive) Where the Facade Bends

A critical research into current depictions of idealised urban futures.

This project was part of DDW 2021
Still from the 3D video 'Where the Facade Bends' — © Sophie Czich

Architectural renders are highly realistic images used by the real estate sector. Happy human archetypes are pasted in the ‘perfect’ house and city. The 3D video collage 'Where the facade bends' deconstructs these neither real nor imaginary places, and delves into this peculiar idea of paradise.

Beyond the narrative of 'the good life'

In architecture, urbanism and real estate, 3D visualisations hold a specific function. Places that don't exist yet are depicted through highly realistic representations. In these performative graphics, every object or character has been curated, designed from scratch. These images stand halfway between an imaginary world and a future that will physically materialise. They play a role at several moments of a place’s development : for advertising to investors, communicating to convince the public, or creating a marketable storytelling. Happy human archetypes are pasted in the ‘perfect’ house, in an idealised environment. At the core of this peculiar world-building practise, the narrative of hyper-perfection fashions a sleek paradise, propels capitalist norms and shapes our collective imagination of desirable lifestyles, cities and potential futures.

'Where the facade bends' plays with these neither real nor imaginary places. Using only fragments of renders, the 3D video collage reassembles a new space, from the public park to the private office building. It offers a stage for a journey through the backsides, absurdities and ruptures of such smooth surfaces.

The process of a 3D collage video

'Where the Facade Bends' relies on a large archive of architectural renders, collected, sorted and decomposed. More than four hundred cut-outs ended up being part of the final video : people, facades, trees, skies, public spaces, indoor place, and others. By disassembling and reassembling these elements, playing with flat surfaces and 3D meshes, the creative process grew along with the theoretical research and narration. Images connotations and subtleties could thus be examined, first working with paper, then with digital tools. Built in a Blender environment, the giant collaged space became this "out-of-time" city, not trying to mimic yet another perfect landscape, but exposing how these images are conceptualised.

An ongoing artistic research on the everyday life

This project is grounded in an interest in cities as spaces from which to envision renewed ways of living and being together. It draws, among others, from Henri Lefebvre "Right to the City" as a radical demand for urban spaces and places as Commons. A first step toward collective practices of the everyday – in the city and beyond – occurs in the understanding of the present situation: what are the current perspectives we are being offered? What is considered being a good life or an ideal future? How are these representations fashioned by real estate speculation ? 'Where the Facade Bends' is part of a broader, continuous artistic research focused on the dynamics which shape cities and everyday lives.

Still from the 3D video 'Where the Facade Bends' — © Sophie Czich

Still from the 3D video 'Where the Facade Bends' — © Sophie Czich

Still from the 3D video 'Where the Facade Bends' — © Roel Backaert

Exhibition view