VITRINE EFFECTS

M.Arch Thesis
Advisors: Andrew Atwood & Andrew Shanken
University of California, Berkeley
M.Arch Fall 2018 - Spring 2019


This thesis seeks to reveal, curate and re-position the threshold between object on display and in function affected by various scale of vitrines. Vitrines historically exhibits strong prominence in the culture of display, object commodification and preservation. From small vitrines in museum to massive scale Buckminster Fuller’s proposed geodesic dome over midtown Manhattan, these transparent enclosures are tools for preservation, display and domestication, objectifying their subjects, occasionally divorcing them from their context of origin. More recently, proposals for refurbishment of Notre Dame has gathered ubiquitous use of glass roofs as restoration strategy (Walsh. 2019). 
Vitrines perform multi-faceted roles. In museum, vitrine was an enabling device to construct diorama, a formal narrative tool in the form of miniature models. In the context of modern art, the use of vitrines has been explored as mediator to delineate, distort and reposition the meaning of objects contained within. For instance, terrifying objects like exposed human flesh could be mediated with layering effects of glass’s reflection and refraction in Paul Thek’s Untitled self-portrait (Neubauer, 2017, pg 149-152). 
This thesis begs two questions, (one) How do we construe the meaning of space and objects included or excluded by vitrine? (two) What is our role as participants and observers in space mediated by multi-scalar vitrines?
This thesis will build on the 5 categories of effects from Small (Furniture scale) to XL (Building scale) in the form of a museum. The spaces created here catalyses our physical awareness of spatial containment or liberation through differentiated condition making of vitrines. Through this thesis, we shall start to contemplate on the role of vitrines in framing animate and inanimate objects operating from small scale furniture to large scale architectural edifice, switching the role of object and subject in space. Vitrine museum will operate on a conglomeration of multi-scalar vitrines, juxtaposed and intersected to destabilise our formerly binary relationships with museum exhibits.
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