Olivo Barbieri: site specific_ROMA 14

About This Project


Eyes That Absorb


The gaze that falls upon a plastic model is more mental than physical: the eye processes almost before it actually sees because it knows it is dealing with a representation, a system purposefully created to keep reality comprehensible and compact so our minds can take it all in. And it does so happily, with a pleasure that is both rational and infantile. Model building revolves around the unique sensation offered by a scale reproduction whether of a car, an aeroplane, a boat, a building, the Colosseum, the Eiffel Tower… All objects that give themselves entirely over to admiration, leaving the mind free to run along two trains of thought, how the big version can physically be made into the small and how the small will virtually project the big. The two great creative processes: miniaturisation and magnification. In addition to training at this spatial exercise, the appeal of plastic models lies in the different rhythm, in the disorientation caused by what we perceive when observing reality exactly how it is, in that precise moment. In most cases, the models illustrate something that does not exist yet, or at least only in the planning stage, or something that no longer exists or is not the same, perhaps the remains of an ancient city surrounded by new buildings. It makes whatever it represents visible and therefore real in its own way. The minuscule proportions do not detract from reality, in fact, they can add to it, absorbing the empty spaces between the atoms and bringing the nucleus of what is to be seen and understood ever closer. The plastic model of a city allows us to liberate ourselves in an aerial vision that we could normally only experience in dreams and fantasy, like Peter Pan and his friends flying through the London sky. It may well remain at head height, but our gaze miraculously becomes as keen and boundless as the eagle.

Text by

Edoardo Albinati

MACRO, XIV edition