SOTIRIOS KOTOULAS: seeing space
It is rare to encounter basic research in the field of architecture, but the publication of this project by Sotirios Kotoulas gives us a chance to do so. By its nature, basic research opens up new and unfamiliar domains that address the foundations of our knowledge. Architects, absorbed as they are in contemporary problems of design, devote little time to questioning the assumptions underlying their work. What is space? How do we know it? What constitutes its reality, its physical fabric? What material forces, lying beyond the realm of the visual, shape the physicality of space and human comprehension of it?
Our present world is greatly impacted by the invisible, and most extensively by the focus of Kotoulas’ research: electromagnetic forces. Computers and the internet, satellites and cell phones, indeed, all of the electronic instrumentation of our globally interconnected civilization increasingly relies upon for cohesion, engage the range of the electromagnetic spectrum of which visible light is but a sliver. In a palpable sense, we already inhabit electromagnetic spaces and are part of their constituency, as the term ‘cyberspace’ attempts to acknowledge. The reason we do not know where cyberspace is, or when we are in it, or how it looks and feels when we are is because our conceptual and perceptual faculties are stuck in older ideas of space. We are hemmed in by our present assumptions and by our inability to visualize, and thus physically experience, space we cannot measure by means we already know. Kotoulas aims to change this by bringing the invisible into the realm of the visible. Without losing his sense of awe, or reducing the immeasurable, he accomplishes his mission by traveling to polar regions of the far north, to the geographical edges, if not the metaphysical limits, of our present civilization, where the visual dimension of our experience is distorted by extreme conditions. He recognizes this as a chance to not only extend our knowledge of ourselves and what we can create, but to add something new to the apparatus of our understanding. His is a polar expedition of the mind, and the territories—philosophical and material—his rigorous and imaginative explorations reveal are claimed by him, quite appropriately, in the name of architecture.
Sotirios Kotoulas is an architect, born in Winnipeg, Canada, who is currently working on several new projects, including his PhD. in architectural theory at McGill University, in Montreal.
A book, entitled Space Out, authored by him, was published by the Research Institute for Experimental Architecture (RIEA) and Springer-Verlag/Wien, in 2005. The above images and text were excerpted from the book: