Skins & Screens, the graduate-level elective studio offered at the University of Pennsylvania, posits the building surface as a dynamic condition, simultaneously real and illusory, opaque and evanescent. Termed sheer opacity, this quality of enclosure provides an investigative focus for the consideration of surface as a dynamic perceptual field, a site for the mediation of physical and perceptual phenomena. Close analysis of selected work of the West Coast art movement Light and Space and that of contemporary installation artists inspired projects that used sheer opacity to examine the possibility of transforming space through the design of the building surface. Projects were developed through a series of "layers" in which students made installations, material constructs, digital simulations, and large-scale detail studies of their proposals.
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