Imagination As Research

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Perspective View, Students, Texture

Imagination As Research

James Basey


An example of imagination as research, this body of work formally explores what would happen if fragments of Nolli’s 1784 Pianta Grande di Roma were to return to disturb the modern developer city. Scattered and suspended amongst the existing fabric these ‘insertions’ rearticulate the relationship between architecture, the city and the room. This re-densification aims to expose the city’s formal and spatial structure, not as a static proposition, but rather as a dynamic, highly charged, and even volatile discourse of competing pressures, issues, needs and desires.


Who influences you graphically?

I have no interest in producing ‘renders’ and find myself lamenting the desire for anything titled ‘real’.

Architectural images have the ability to transcend both the ‘real’ and the ‘imaginative’ world. Buildings are not merely just buildings, but the embodiment of ideologues and beliefs. I believe that the production of images should also hold the same values and are an integral aspect of architecture in the studio and in the built form.

It is impossible to isolate particular influences but work with an abstract elegance and representational quality, irreverent and provocative are always appealing. I am currently re-appreciating the work of James Stirling. His ‘worm-eyed’ axonometric views are bare and stripped back of extraneous information but have a tremendous clarity by projecting a real architectural understanding of the project instead of merely an ‘artists impression’.

I have also been a longstanding fan of the Work of Pier Vittorio Aureli and Dogma and would thoroughly recommend their projects, articles, research and images.

How important is the central perspective? 

I chose to focus the view centrally at eye level in order to encourage the image to become a extension of the viewer’s personal space, allowing them to understand the scale and space in relation to their own body.

The central perspective employed in my images is directly influenced by many famous artwork that also adopt this approach, such as Van Gogh’s ‘The Cafe Terrace at Night’, ‘Paris Street, A Rainy Day’ by Gustave Caillebote and even as far back as Masolino’s ‘St Peter’.


What dictated the views you chose to explore your development of the Nolli Pianta Grande?

The project explored the re-partiation of Nolli’s Pianta Grande di Roma to the modern developer city. These scattered ‘insertions’ aimed to expose the city’s formal and spatial structure, not as a static proposition, but rather as a dynamic, highly charged, and even volatile discourse of competing pressures, issues, needs and desires.

As a way of rearticulating the relationship between architecture, the city and the room I wanted to produce images that equally explored the dynamic, transforming, endless possibilities in the city.

How important is texture in communicating this redefined relationship?

I aim to limit my palette of colours and maintain a coherent visual texture across images in a series. Generally, the intention was to maintain a black and white approach to the Nolli fragments as I was interested in exploring their presence, size and scale. By adding ‘familiarity’ to the foreground of the images, or the space the figure resided in allowed a certain accessibility for the viewer that was then juxtaposed by the figures beyond. The city is defined by paradoxes and I enjoyed this small nod to yet another paradox. As with all the ‘rules’ I made, I also enjoyed breaking them.


How does the inclusion of one figure per image effect the way the insertion is experienced by the viewer?

I was interested in representing an isolated, vulnerable lonely figure to represent a world that no longer deserved a grandeur one may expect. The lone figure makes the space they occupy immense and focuses the theme of the images on the air that surrounds the figure opposed to the figure.



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