From my windows
Windows: Part 4
The light provided by windows is famously reflected in Vermeer's paintings, since in several of them a window appears on the left, illuminating the rooms and their occupants, being ‘The milkmaid’ (1657–1658) his most notable work. Edward Hopper also showed more explicitly the attention brought to the window’s contrasted light effects on a woman’s skin, walls and bed in ‘Morning sun’ (1952) or in the entire room as in ‘Room in Brooklyn’ (1932). However, Hopper’s ‘Sun in an Empty Room’ (1963) is certainly one of his purest study of sunlight on the floor and walls of an apartment. Sunlight creates rectangular bright and dark shapes that may vary depending on the window’s orientation and shape. Colour shades may also vary according to light’s intensity and the supports in which they are reflected, as the effect of light on a green concrete wall will not be the same as on a wooden brown floor. As such, in this chapter, I first aimed to observe, analyse and photograph the effects of light in my four rooms.
Besides seeing what is going on outside and enjoying the light, windows have other uses. After each shower, we open the bathroom window to dry the floor and after cooking we open that same window and the kitchen window to dissipate the smells. In summer, we open the northern window of the living room and the western window of the bathroom to ventilate and avoid using the air conditioning under hot temperatures. To prevent the door from closing abruptly due to having the windows open, I have used a shoelace for two years to tie the door lever to a metal towel holder. We also put the mosquito net to avoid them inside, which in turn prevents us from seeing what is going on outside. In this case, the mosquito net encloses us while protecting us. Further, Beijing is a city that generates a lot of dust and when it is windy, one can clean the floor impeccably but dust will reappear in large amounts few days later, which makes me wonder if the windows protections are effective or it is because we are located at the fourteenth floor near to the road, not really preserved from the wind. Windows bring light and air but also protect us from the weather; from pollution, rain and sandstorms. That’s how they often get dirty, which incited me to clean them to complete this part of the project. Windows also change the temperature of a room. As my bedroom windows are in a sort of closed balcony with ceiling drying racks, we mostly use them to dry clothes and to enjoy the exposure of the sun in the afternoon. That is the reason why that room is usually warmer than the others. There can also be useless windows as the one hidden in a corner of the bedroom or one of the windows in the kitchen, both translucide and badly located in the apartment. Overall, besides the view to appreciate from them, windows are mostly a functional element rather than an aesthetic one. That is maybe why, since we arrived, that my partner decided to decorate them with two large illustrations, one in the kitchen and the other one in the bathroom, as well as Christmas stars in the living room.