Tuesday, May 6, 2014

2: Comparative Stratification: The Experience of Literal Representations of Heaven

Within the B/R era churches, and in religious architecture in general, the concept of heaven can be represented figuratively or allegorically, entrusting the viewer with the finer details whilst focusing on one aspect of the concept, such as the ascent. Or it can be represented literally, as the artist and/or patrons imagine it, invoking the power of figural expression whilst risking isolating viewers whose ideas of heaven do not conform.

Here is Turin again as our example of a figural and formal presentation of the relationship between the Shroud and its owners current address. Because the primary shapes utilized are radial as opposed to axial, one point gains a superior moment.
And here is Asamkirche in Munich as our example of a literal representation of the building opening up from the altarpiece to heaven. The transition takes place from floor to ceiling, gradually opening up as the lines become more irregular going upward. The most powerful axis can be seen to be through the pughs upward through the vertical elements of the rear of the church  and transitioning into the horizontal elements which take on the effect of wings. Because these lines permeate the entire space there is less mysticism here, but the power of the space is overbearing in other ways.

The difference in primary mode can be attributed to the difference in usage of the spaces. One is a reliquary, meant for ambulatory visitation, prayer, and occasional service. The other is meant for regular service. The differences in the quality of space seem to stem from one space wanting to be a space that envelops you with its universal opulence, whereas the other space wants to keep you reverent and not inquisitive.

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