Book

photo: Marjan Krebelj

Overview

The Architecture of Virtual Space is in fact two studies in one. On one hand, it is a methodical articulation of the elusive idea of virtual space. On the other, it is a historical overview of works of architecture that were made specifically as the content of pictorial works of art. What brings these two seemingly distinct topics together is the realization that they are in fact complementary – that is, that researching one would provide answers for the other, and vice versa. As such, this study is a work of media theory as well as a work of architectural theory.

Media Theory: A theory of virtual space. Presently, the terms ‘virtual’ and ‘virtual space’ are very loosely defined. With all their widespread use in both popular culture and academic discourse, what do these terms actually mean? Computer-generated? Online? Fictitious? Imagined? Metaphysical? In the absence of a consistent definition, confusion reigns supreme and ‘virtual’ ends up being just an empty buzzword – meaning practically nothing at all. Therefore, rather than simply reiterating known technological, psychological, or philosophical concerns, this study approaches the topic as an architectural issue; it seeks to define virtuality in terms of the actual space that is perceived through visual media. It is a theoretical attempt at defining virtual space itself, in a lucid, down-to-earth, and systematic manner. The result is a comprehensive work which restores the connection between older art theories and new media phenomena, proposing a single coherent theory of the pictorial image.

Architectural Theory: Architectural content in the pictorial arts. The history of architecture addresses mainly two forms of architecture: the physically built, and the wished-to-be-built. And yet, in addition to these two, there is a third form of architecture that has received very limited attention as such. This is the architecture that serves as the visible content of paintings, films, video games, and so on – architectural projects that were designed and intended from their outset to reside nowhere else but within a pictorial image. Through an analysis of a carefully-made selection of artworks spanning two millennia, this study is an introduction to the wealth and beauty of a largely overlooked branch of architectural creation. The result is both a valuable reference for the fields of art and architecture in general, and a theoretical foundation for the emerging fields of virtual architecture and virtual worlds.

Through both its methodology and its contents, this study seamlessly combines architecture and media, along with the history and theory of art, film theory, digital imaging, and information design. By fusing them together, the book provides a fresh view on each of these fields and reveals the underlying principles that are common to all of them.

Table of Contents

The book’s table of contents is as follows:

Introduction

An Exploratory Journey; The Paradox of the Virtual; An Overlooked Branch of Architecture; The Architecture of Virtual Space; Methods of Research and Presentation

PART I – THE VIRTUAL SPACE THEORY

Chapter One: Art, Illusion, and Architecture

The Art of Space; Where Is What We See When We Look at a Painting? Techniques of Illusion; Conditions of Illusion; Ambiguities of the Third Dimension; The Analysis of Vision in Art

Chapter Two: A Window to Another World

An Alternative Theory of the Pictorial Image; What Is Virtual Space? What Virtual Space Is Not; The Terminology of Virtual Space; The Myths of How Virtual Space Can Be Experienced; Why They Are Myths; The Reality of How Virtual Space Is Experienced

Chapter Three: Devices of Illusion

A Pattern on a Surface or a Window to Virtual Space? The Ancient World; Classical Antiquity; The Middle Ages; The Renaissance; The Baroque; The Age of Reason; The 20th Century; Film; Ever More Mediums; Conclusion

Chapter Four: The Contextography of Virtual Space

The Location of Virtual Places within Virtual Space; The Basic Principles of Contextography; The ‘Reconstruction’ Context Zones; The ‘Documentation’ Context Zones; The ‘Projection’ Context Zones; The ‘Invention’ Context Zones; Contextography and the History of Art

Chapter Five: Enter Computer

The Abstraction Process of Devices of Illusion; The Abstraction Machine; One Presentation Tool for All Mediums; The New Viewports; The New Mediums; The New Context Zones; The New Techniques

PART II – VIRTUAL ARCHITECTURE

Chapter Six: Virtual Architecture

Applying The Virtual Space Theory; Virtual Architecture vs. The Usage of Computers in Physical Architecture; The Discipline of Virtual Architecture; Virtual Architecture as a Form of Art

Epilogue

Reviews

The Architecture of Virtual Space is first and foremost a new theory of art… a mature theoretical work that comes as a long-awaited revelation after many years of dreariness in the theory of art history. It creates a theoretical bond between previous theories of art history, from Heinrich Wölfflin and Alois Riegl in the late 19th century, to Erwin Panofsky and E.H. Gombrich in the 20th century, and links them to the theory of new media. It expands the theory of new media by viewing such media simply as artistic tools – promising devices for reaching new levels in the art of spatial illusionism.”

To the full review…

Peter Krečič, Art Historian, Author, and Director of the Ljubljana Architectural Museum

“The main and entirely original contribution of this book is the simple fact that what we are reading is probably the first consistent theory of virtual space… Its most interesting accomplishment is that it opens up a multitude of totally new points of view, while at the same time clearing up many misunderstandings… The book is intended for readers from a broad circle of disciplines. For instance, it deals with the world of motion pictures so intensively that it could belong to the field of film aesthetics just as much as it belongs to that of the aesthetics of architecture. This is precisely the hybrid yet well-calculated interdisciplinary method that is so irresistibly charming and that makes contemporary art research so attractive…”

To the full review…

Fedja Košir, Architectural Theorist, Author, and Professor at the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana

Technical Details

The book is published as a limited non-commercial edition by the Faculty of Architecture of the University of Ljubljana.

Hardcover: 202 pages, 253 illustrations, high-quality color print

Language: English

ISBN: 978-9616160902

Dimensions: 30 x 22 cm (12 x 8.5 inches)

Shipping weight: 1.1 kg (2.4 lb)

Book sales are not for profit. All proceeds are used only for promoting and financing future editions of the book.

How to Order

Book orders are available by clicking here.