Glass models reflect the architectural past of industrial America

Drafted from aerial photography, 3D-printed renderings of optical remote sensing data, and hand-drawn Sanborn Maps from the 19th and 20th century, Norwood Viviano’s translucent glass models illustrate the architectural past of industrial US cities. ‘Mining Industries’ comprises of polished aerial view models of American cities including Boston, Detroit, Seattle and San Francisco. Viviano’s work assesses how (with the use of GPS), mapping technologies are rarely critiqued, and asserts the work of mapping theorist, David Turnbull, who cautions against the belief that maps are free from human input. Turnbull theorizes that maps have flaws, and instead, should be thought of as ‘knowledge spaces’ whereby all knowledge production sites are a meshwork of practices and contingencies; where the creation of knowledge is sustained by social labour e.g. the production of maps by colonial state-makers.

Turnbull’s idea of ‘knowledge spaces’ is central to Viviano’s project which critiques the ever-changing relationship between industrialisation and population growth in the US. The 3D-printed renderings of optical remote sensing data, aerial photography and Sanborn Maps, each depicts industrial change differently; the data is orientated chronologically where the latest technological information (optical remote sensing data) appears on the surface of the model, and the older data (aerial photographs and Sanborn Maps) are forged underneath. When looking at the models with a bird’s eye view, the various layers of glass can be identified, reflecting how architectural density has shifted in these sites throughout the 20th century. Viviano’s manipulation of glass blurs and complicates visibility, illustrating how the process of architectural development is far from pristine and clean-cut. 

To view more of Viviano's work, click here

By Anna Marks.

 All image credits: Heller Gallery, New York. Martiki Coal Mine. 

Downtown Louisville

Downton Seattle 

Microsoft Corporation Headquarters 


Planned Industrial Community Lowell


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