This project is a study in the process of writing as a tool for design. Text and image become the mediums through which ideas are transmitted. Multiple readings in both the text and images allow viewers to reach unique conclusions based on personal assumptions and interpretations.
In terms of text, narrative is the method of story telling. The point of view [vantage point] is a vital part in narration and plants the reader inside or outside of the story. The use of first person, or the proper noun “I”, puts the perspective from the place of the narrator. It is therefore possible to keep the identity of “I” hidden from the reader and allows for the creation of a complex web of shifting character identity.
The beginning of the narrative for the project Omakuva, an interfaith chapel to house the work of the artist Helene Schjerfbeck, suggests that I am not the author of the work, but a transcriber that found the text in a black notebook on the island. By relieving my responsibilities as “the” author I am allowed free range in terms of storyline.
Six characters are used in the narrative. While the first is myself, I introduce the second character as the author(s?) of the black notebook I found on the island. The three characters, the person who sits on the bench studying the wall, the person who cannot see and the person who is afraid of the dry dock wall collapsing, are interconnected on various levels. The sixth is introduced in third person as Helene Schjerfbeck, the woman who looked back. The reader is led to either a) believe that the author and transcriber are separate people, b) the three characters are separate individuals or c) each character is a manifestation of the author’s personality (the author or the transcriber?).
The issue of time also plays an important role in design and narrative. Under the guise of three vignettes that may or may not relate to each other and overlap at certain plot points, the author creates for various readings of when events took place. For instance, a script could allow for an understanding of the beginning because of the end and the end because of the beginning. Furthermore, the use of a non-linear storyline leaves room for even more complexity.
Through the lenses of this form of story telling and the nature of Helene Schjerfbeck’s self-portraits and landscapes, ideas suggesting an architecture may be formed. The implications are obvious; pieces of the architecture serve multiple programmed and non-programmed purposes. The design allows for open ended readings of what is inside-outside, wall, entry into site and circulation.
The act of writing also delves into the territory of personal reflection. Similar to the sketch of a site, a written interpretation forces the author to confront feelings and make an opinion about the site. Just like a drawing, text can inform the atmosphere of a space. Both methods can either be abstract- leaving the perspective open, or exact-giving the nearly no deviation from the intended meaning.
Each character reaches the site through a different path and through separate approaches, they are allowed different experiences and character development. Each, however, reaches the same Thoreauvian conclusion of self-discovery and the value of solitude. The arrangement of characters in a chapel that would make them uncomfortable is intentional. By placing the blind in a tower, the cartographer by a wall and the fearful in a place that may be flooded, each is forced to come to grips with silence, self and solitude.