Follow the (relatively) simple instructions for (1) taking the introductory tutorial to learn the boundary language notation system; (2) completing the three examples that give you practice using this notation system — see below; and (3) watching three films to complete a short quiz and essay about the application of boundary language to the time-space of film and (eventually) real life.


Architecture — all art, actually — relies on the ability to control the way things are concealed and revealed to the "audience." Even more than time-based artworks, architecture must be able to conceal things that are plainly visible, by organizing the architectural experience as such. This relates directly to the complexity of human subjectivity, where we have important relationships with people, events, and objects that have imaginary but not literally real experiential status: the past and future, places we know exist but have never visited, abstract but important ideas such as wealth, happiness, well-being, and the all-important category, the living and the dead. Architectural representation is dominated by projective mechanics that uniformly relegate the visible world to a few graphic standards. The element of time is subordinate to this spatial symbolism, and "virtual" objects and qualities are under-represented. Boundary language seeks to supplement the traditional means of architectural representation by incorporating temporal and topological elements that may help to restore the role of the invisible within the commonplace domains of the personal and civic.

Introduction: The Contest between Zeuxis and Parhassius

This famous event of antiquity shows how the complex dimensionality of space can be traced using special notations and a bit of Lacanian psychology.

Exercise 1: Dürer's "Artist and Model in the Studio"

Dürer's famous engraving provides the opportunity to try out the notation system yourself (with a little help from your friends).

Excercise 2: The Train Joke

It's a simple thing, a joke; but in the idea of a surprise that involves something "you already know" is in fact the subject of the joke. Diagram its effects and see a pattern unfold that you can translate to architectural space.

Excercise 3: Simonides and the Invention of Artificial Memory

This famous story (another one from antiquity) directly relates the invention of artificial memory to its architetural supports … and the relation is not coincidental!

Film 1: North by Northwest

North by Northwest presents the audience with a classic dilemma: the wrongly accused hero, pursued by two "bad guys," can't clear himself because the person he is presumed to be doesn't exist. Grrr!

Film 2: Rear Window

What happens when the thermometer climbs into the 90s in the New York of the 1950s? Certainly not air conditioning. Residents open their windows (and their lives) to the idle eyes of a convalescing photographer who inadvertently discovers a heinous murder in the apartment across this interior urban courtyard. This is a case where the topography of the film set is the logic of the film itself.

Film 3: Strangers on a Train

© 2012, Donald Kunze, all rights reserved