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Windows of Bolin Aiyue

Visual research project in Beijing

When confined at home for long periods of time as it happened during the Covid-19 crisis, windows become one’s only natural contact with the external world. A window can be studied from different orientations, from inside and outside, and it is through a pattern of six steps that one may complete a cycle of observation.

The residence and the building

Who hasn’t been impressed by modern Chinese architecture upon arriving in Beijing, marked by its utilitarian, Lego block-style structures with massive forms and minimal decorative elements? Bolin Aiyue, also known as the Berlin Philharmonic, is one of these residential complexes built in 2008 and situated at the eastern outskirts of Beijing, comprising thirty-eight buildings from six to twenty floors, with thousands of residents of diverse social classes. Since October 2017, I have resided in the fourteenth floor of one of these buildings, where its windows are the core of this visual research project, as they connect the inside and the outside world in ways that I will attempt to study.

As the philosopher and urban rhytmanalyst Henri Lefevre puts it, the fact is that the window is a non-object which cannot fail to become an object. As a transactional object it has two senses, two orientations: from inside to outside, and from outside to inside’ (1991: 209). Therefore, my proposal entails to explore and classify these orientations across six chapters, where the relation between observer and observed—be it the windows themselves or what is seen from them—are the constants that give a common thread to the project’s reflection and experimentation stages. In these six chapters, artists references are commented and visual experiments are conducted, starting with the most mobile and common of observations, when walking within the residence looking at others’ windows from outside. Subsequent chapters are rather settled in one space, my own apartment and its surroundings, which reduces the range of the study, unless one considers the distant view from my windows. Finally, the last chapter is the most complex as it involves four of my neighbours and their respective windows. What initially started as a solitary project within my apartment expands by being shared with others.

Posted: June 22th, 2021

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