[on the politics of space & cultural interventions]

INTER-MERZ: shape-sculpt-scale

Remco Roes & Koenraad Claes


2 artist-researcher-tutors

4 assignments of the course ‘Envisioning / Imagining Architecture + Space 1A + 1B’

10x3 3-hour seminars

104 students

156 models of their ancestral homes

72 abandoned models found in the faculty of Architecture and Arts of Hasselt University

3 large piles of junk

10000+ photographs/scans generated during various exercises

1 week wandering around Berlin

The point of departure for this visual essay is an ongoing series of ‘INTER-MERZ’ seminars that Koenraad Claes and Remco Roes have been teaching at the department of Interior Design at the faculty of Architecture and Arts (Hasselt University, Belgium) and at ENSAV La Cambre (Brussels), from 2016 onwards.

A crucial aspect of these introductory lessons in ‘Envisioning/Imagining Architecture + Space’ is to stimulate an experimental, intuitive and uninformed approach towards a collection of derelict everyday objects on the one hand, and a series of architectural models on the other.

Initially these two ‘scales’ were contained within separate exercises, but after the first year they were confronted with each other in the form of a book-publication, which was the starting point for the exercise of the following year. Those most recent results have subsequently been taken on a stroll through Berlin, in order to prepare the next publication – in the form of a visual book of assignments that attempt to provoke the reaction of the students towards a specific urban context. This growing series of book-publications is now a structural part of the course that allows us to curate the students results, draw (visual/spatial) conclusions and determine future directions. Besides being a didactical tool, the collected material in the publications has come to develop its own aesthetic and logic – a thinking of its own. It allows us to explore a plethora of interesting occurrences that happen ‘in the margin’ of the more sensible and didactically responsible teaching, as ‘collateral damage’ that has an autonomous (artistic) value.

We have attempted to arrange the images in this essay in such a way that they trace the thread of ‘scale’ as it presents itself through the project. The images are meant to be read as self-sustaining visual argument in which the notion of scale gets stretched, mixed, muddled and diluted with other concepts. We believe this is the strength (and essence) of a visual essay: it is through this unarticulated, unconceptualised visual nature – which brings together amalgamous constellations of meaning – that it proves its worth besides any argumentation that occurs (solely) in words. (For a more elaborate enquiry into the relationship between words and images in the visual essay as artistic research instrument we refer to Roes & Snowdon (2017 & 2018) and Roes & Pint (2017)).

At the end of the essay we have included an optional ‘reading guide’ in which we elaborate briefly on some of the ‘resonances’ we have found between our project and the notion of scale. We do, however, strongly suggest an initial uninformed reading of the piece.