Image: The spinning shadow of a big bird cage cast on a man’s face adds into the total atmosphere.  Ashes of Time (1994), director, Kar Wai Wong

Image: The spinning shadow of a big bird cage cast on a man’s face adds atmosphere.
Ashes of Time (1994), director, Kar Wai Wong

“What men call the shadow of the body is not the shadow of the body, but is the body of the soul.” – Oscar Wilde

There was a game my friends and I played back in China when we were kids. One of us was chosen to begin as the “ghost”, and he or she would try to catch the others. If caught, that kid would then assume the role of the “ghost” and the chase would begin anew. It sounds like a super universal kids’ game. However, there was a twist. The definition of “catching” in this Chinese version of this game of tag meant stepping onto another’s shadow. It’s interesting to realize our shadow is an extension of ourselves, yet sometimes it changes even as we stay still as the light around us changes.

Tree shadows cast onto a Pasadena, CA parking structure wall add texture. Photograph by Yiran Wang)

Tree shadows add texture to the wall of a parking structure in Pasadena, California. Photograph by Yiran Wang

Light is a given, shadow is just one of the results. Shadow is an important part of the Asian aesthetic and the one I’m most interested in. Many Chinese poems depict the shadow of trees, bamboos, and even humans. Traditionally in Chinese gardens shadows are considered when designing a scene, such as bamboo shadows swaying against a white wall or an exquisite window frame casting patterns along a walkway. Thus, when I walk along a street I like to search for shadows cast across surfaces. Even the shadow of a fence creates a rhythm in my eyes, playing a pattern between dark and bright, dark and bright.

Shadows on a topography study model. Photograph by Yiran Wang

Texture and shadows interplay across a topography study model. Photograph by Yiran Wang

Shadow gives depth, enhancing the texture of an object. Cast shadows can be an authentic drawing which turns a three-dimensional tree into an abstraction, a mysterious image onto the wall. The existence of any shadow is dependent upon the presence of both an object and cast light, an interdependency representing the heart of Yin Yang. There are many great natural and manmade landscapes and architectural masterpieces where beautiful shadows occur. And not only is the visual effect evocative, but also the physical feeling of coolness; a shadow imparts a space with its presence.

Architects play with shadows all of the time. It’s an art finding the perfect cut opening. However, for us landscape architects, perhaps the relationship between space and light is the other way around.

“A column and a column brings light between them. To make a column which grows out of the wall and which makes its own rhythm of no-light, light, no-light, light: that is the marvel of the artist.” – Louis Kahn

The National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, designed by architect, Louis Kahn 

The National Assembly Building of Bangladesh, designed by architect, Louis Kahn

Note: A version of this same piece translated into Chinese is available below…

影子

“人们所谓的躯体的影子并非躯体的影子,而是灵魂的躯体。”
——王尔德

小时候在中国我常和朋友们玩一种游戏:一个人当“鬼”,被他抓住的也要当“鬼”。这听起来和小时候玩的其他游戏似乎没什么不同。然而它不一样的地方在于,这里的“抓住”是指要踩住他的影子。这便使我们意识到了,影子,也是我们的一部分,尽管有时控制她的不是我们,而是光.

光是一种赐予,影子是伴随他而产生的结果之一。但就是这“之一”使我深深着迷。或许是因为影子是东方美学中一个重要的意象。许多中国古诗都在竭力描绘她,斑驳树影,婆娑竹影,甚至是人的茕影 。这在中国古典园林中体现更甚,粉墙竹影,窗棂倩影等等。于是乎,当我漫步街头的时候,我喜欢寻找影子,哪怕是路边栏杆的投影在我眼中也像是一首明与暗的歌.

阴影给予物体深度,增强肌理,而投影则常常将三维物体描绘成一副抽象又神秘的画。影子的存在是相对于实体而存在的,而她本身却构成了一种“虚空间”,这便是一种“阴阳”的概念。许多自然或人为的建筑或景观杰作中都能看到至美至幻的影子。在她形成的空间里,不仅有视觉上的效果还有身体切实对温度的感受.

建筑师擅长“弄影”,完美的采光即一种艺术。或许对我们景观建筑师来说,这种艺术却是“反其道而行之”,于光明中寻找影子。

“柱与柱之间带来光。而将柱从墙体中剥离出来并形成它特有的暗,明,暗,明的韵律才是艺术家创造的奇迹.”
——路易斯·康

Comments

One Comment

Post a comment
  1. May 14, 2015

    Reblogged this on Typefiend™ and commented:
    Are shadows negative space, or is light actually the absence of darkness, the predominant universal?

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Basic HTML is allowed. Your email address will not be published.

Subscribe to this comment feed via RSS