Kochi: Architecture was simply a tool for people to connect with their consciousness, and any created space without a user inside it was a dead zone, according to French artist-architect Gabriel Beckinger.
"A building must make you aware of your physical presence there, and when people are together in a particular place, they have the realisation of being one collective body," said Beckinger in a talk at the ongoing Kochi-Muziris Biennale held here.
Beckinger was speaking about his experiments with capturing a designed space and the movement of people within it.
Titled "The Many Bodies of Architecture", the lecture was part of the biennale's "Let's Talk" series.
Beckinger, whose works combine performance, architecture and video, centred his talk on a recent project called "(Un)Steady", created for the 14th Architecture Biennale of Venice.
In "(Un)Steady", the architectural element was provided by seven different stages built to host theatre and dance performances at the Venice biennale and the users of the space were the visitors themselves.
The video installation of the project was shot by Beckinger's collaborator, a steadycam operator who kept the camera lens close to his body and captured, in continuous motion, the architectural design as well as the faces and movements of visitors who became both 'a collective body of spectators' while watching him move and tensed up 'performers' when the camera approached them individually.
For the performance part of the project, the artist asked his cameraman to move from one stage to the next repeating the gestures he used in making the movie - the back-and-forth, up-and-down movements, the weaving and turning - but with an imaginary steadycam instead of the real one.
"People ended up asking me if he was a dancer," said Beckinger. "That, to me, was the success of the programme."
"Architectural space must be a place to consciously engage the movement of the body; that is how you bring people into the context of the design," he said.
Beckinger has had his works exhibited in Paris, Brussels, Reykjavik and Venice. Currently, he is working on a new project in Mumbai.