Fantastic Form: Digital Design as Fiction and Fact
Design and architecture has always been used within film to engage the fantasy of the viewer. By providing both a sense of the familiar and by communicating complex information about context architecture and design enhance the believability of place and substance, and in turn this creates the stable foundation from which the viewer can engage “the fantastic”. Technologies employed in the film industry enable story tellers and film makers to set their scenes in convincing yet fictional environments. This longstanding symbiotic relationship between architecture, design, and film is increasingly being enhanced (or even supplanted) with the use of digital visual effects. As parallel yet associated development, computer aided design and visualization technology gives designers and architects the enhanced ability to create their own design fictions: Photorealistic designs, existing only in digital space, that are not encumbered by the limitations of real world constraints. Yet, just as with digital movie effects, the craft of design risks credibility when it is too heavily invested in appearance rather than substance. The origin of this investigation was an invitation from the Centre d’Art Neuchâtel (CAN) and the Neuchâtel International Fantastic Film Festival (NIFFF) to collaborate on a small and temporary architectural project to be installed at the fantastic film festival. The architectural brief was the starting point for this design-build project, but it was the notion of “the fantastic” and its relation to both the issues of fiction and design which became the driving interest of research.