Real Fiction

Real Fiction

The design of this scale model is based on the concept of a panopticon. A Panopticon is an institutional system of control designed by the English philosopher and social theorist Jeremy Bentham in the late 18th century.

The scheme of the design is to allow all inmates of a prison or institution to be observed by a single watchman without the inmates being able to tell whether or not they are being watched. The shape of the building often comes in the form of a star.

Although it is physically impossible for the single watchman in the center to observe all the inmates’ cells at once, the fact that the inmates cannot know when they are being watched means they are motivated to act as though they are being watched at all times.

In ‘Discipline and Punish’, Michel Foucault builds on Bentham’s conceptualization of the Panopticon. The ever-visible inmate, Foucault suggests, is always ‘the object of information, never a subject in communication’.

This is a concept that sounds all too familiar when we think of all the cameras that are constantly pointed at us. Can we walk in a modern city without being watched?

Is this building beautiful or threatening? Isn’t it often easy to feel small and powerless when walking under these concrete giants? Is the future going to be a utopia or a dystopia? Maybe the line between the two is a bit blurred.

This model is built to scale 1/200, so in reality the building would be about 240 meters tall. In 2012 it was exhibited for a month at the Bozar Centre for Fine Arts in Brussels.

The video below shows the process in making the model and is done by using the stop-motion technique. The model consists of 1845 different parts which are modelled in 3D and cut out with a laser-cutter. The model is about 1m25 in height.

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In the video above you can watch an excerpt from the television series that was broadcast on national television.

Below are some images that reveal the design process.

I started looking for basic geometric shapes I could base my building on.

After that I created a technical drawing in 3D that defines the thickness and position of all the different parts to get a solid structure without having to compromise on the original design.

I exported these parts to a laser-cutter to cut them out MDF plates. Because some of the parts have a sharp corner I had to manually cut off some of the edges in a certain angle with a mini table saw (see video below).

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Aboven: all the pieces spread out on 1 sheet

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Above: Real Fiction at Aporia Gallery in Brussels

Beautiful Dystopia – Colour version

Beautiful Dystopia – Colour version

Everything you can imagine will be possible one day.
If it exists within the boundaries of the laws of physics and our technology keeps on improving it will be possible.

With the advancements made in artificial intelligence and virtual reality the amount of possible futures is becoming inconceivable great. The future has never been more uncertain.

Video games evolved from Pong in 1972 to massive online multiplayer games that look almost photo-real. What will video games look like in another 40 years? Will the gaming-world be distinguishable from the real world?

How can we be sure that we are not living in a video game ourselves?

New technology will bring the possibility of a true Utopia. Will the new wealth be distributed equally amongst the world population?



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For this piece, I was inspired by one of the drawings Maurits Cornelius Escher did at the Alhambra in Spain (above). I tried to remake this pattern in three dimensions, I didn’t fully succeed, but I made my own version (below). Once I got the pattern down I defined the lines as roads and I started to construct the buildings in the empty spaces.

It is surprising how this method influenced the final result. The whole city becomes much more harmonious. Everything seems to fit together. When I was looking for interesting camera positions, I was under the impression that much more was possible than with other complex scenes. An interesting composition seems to be possible wherever I place my camera. This could be interesting when I want to make an animation of some sort.

One word of caution: in the world of three dimensions, it is always important to design everything from the angle and height you want to finally position your camera(s). In this case, I designed everything from a fair distance above the ground. As a result, the camera at eye-level won’t deliver a very interesting picture. This is because the proportions won’t look as good any more.


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