Premiering a new virtual environment of one of Bath’s historical landmarks, Playing the Picturesque presents a selection of new works by architectural design practice You+Pea, commissioned by RIBA (Royal Institute of British Architects).
Today, we spend much of our time living in virtual realms, endlessly producing, sharing and looking at pictures of an idealised and filtered world on the screen of personal devices. In the eighteenth century too, architects and artists became interested in picturing the ‘ideal’. Landscapes, townscapes and buildings were arranged in an aesthetically pleasing manner, producing the stylistic movement of ‘the Picturesque’. Designing its own harmony and beauty, the Picturesque provides delight in the experience of looking through framed views, dramatic reveals and a romantic relationship to nature.
For this installation, You+Pea have used objects and archival images from the RIBA Collections to open a window into a world of digital delights where audiences are invited to play. Looking at the work of Regency architect John Nash (1752–1835), one of the main proponents of the Picturesque, the exhibition consists of a series of scaled folly structures extracted from history. Five Nash-inspired scenes extend into interactive virtual environments through digital projections. The follies become junctions between the virtual and physical, acting as visual markers in the imagined landscape, growing and changing in response to the movement and interactions of visitors through the gallery.