Fantasy in Reality
Architecture, Representation, Reproduction
1516 June 2017, 9am6pm

Vassilieve NY Setbacks

Nicholas B. Vassilieve, Perspective for New York setback regulations made for publication, 1949. Pencil on paper, 535 x 658 mm.

15–16 June 2017, 9am–6pm
The Courtauld Institute of Art
Somerset House
Strand
London WC2R 0RN

From the capriccios of Piranesi and Canaletto to Vladimir Tatlin’s Monument to the Third International, Archigram’s drawings in the 1970s, and contemporary video game architecture, architectural fantasies have been produced and reproduced for centuries. On the one hand, architectural fantasies stir the imagination, represent future possibilities, and utopian dreams, on the other, they reflect and reproduce political ideologies, societal aspirations and anxieties. Though by definition, fantasy relates to that outside reality, or beyond possibility, the examples listed above engage directly with reality and they exist as realised projects in the form of architectural representations – on paper, as models, as reproductions or as digital files.

This symposium aims to consider the intersection of fantasy and reality by examining a broad range of architectural production from the Renaissance to the present day across different cultures and media. It includes papers that explore the blurred lines, or tensions, between fantasy and reality in architecture and its representation. Architectural fantasies created in drawings, paintings, computer renders, photographs and films, and three dimensional examples in built projects, exhibition pavilions, doll houses, interiors and garden features will be considered as vital forms of architectural production that both reflect and produce reality.

How does the production of architectural fantasies relate to reality and attempt to shape it? How do representations of architecture construct or perpetuate fantasies of the built environment? How have architects, city planners and/or politicians and rulers used architecture to reinforce fantastical notions of reality? What is the role of the mass media in the production and dissemination of architectural fantasies in popular culture?

In what ways do representations of built or soon to be built projects contribute to the construction of fantasy? The conference seeks to address these questions and more.

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