The Phenomenological Device: A Study in Spatial Effects/Affects

The Phenomenological Device: A Study in Spatial Effects/Affects

A public installation for a waterfront science/art sculpture park that manipulates, calls attention to and/or explains a natural phenomena to the public. 

Phenomena in Design

The development of interior space for human habitation came out of a need for mediation of natural phenomena for the comfort, protection and well-being of our species.  We have, over time, come to rely on our interior spaces as extensions of our own heat control mechanisms (McCluhan, 1964) allowing us to go about other tasks without worrying too much about what the day’s weather phenomena might bring.

Phenomena are observable events.  They constitute the world ‘as we experience it.’  Humans cannot, according to 18th c. philosopher Kant, know things-in-themselves, only things as we experience them. Thus, he said, philosophy/science should concern itself with the understanding of phenomena.  

Hence our scientific method, as has developed over the past four centuries, is rooted in empirical (or observable) evidence.  An experiment is used to manipulate, observe, measure, and record results.  From this process, we draw conclusions and speculate on potential applications for our findings.  We will approach the design of your installations through this framework and test the applicability of this methodology to design. 

The phenomena that we harness for spatial effects in the built environment include light, sound, temperature, and humidity, among others.  For this project, you may explore any of those or others you may find on the site. You might also consider biological processes, transfer of energy, or other phenomena that might have sustainability applications.

Project Parameters

Your challenge is to develop a spatial experience/installation to explain, harness, and/or heighten awareness of a natural phenomena.  The project is being commissioned by a new science museum which will be opening on the west-side waterfront.  The site will be an outdoor sculpture garden and exhibition space on the Hudson River.  The installation will be installed on the first day of spring and expected to last through the autumn so sun, rain and wind should be considered as both opportunities and challenges. 

SITE:  Hudson Riverside Park / Chelsea Waterside Park
(Between Piers 62 and 64 on the Hudson River – between W 22nd St and W 24th St.),-74.009667,3a,75y,70.8h,90.34t/data=!3m7!1e1!3m5!1s-B1OVt3VqvsAAAGusiv9-g!2e0!3e11!7i11700!8i5850