Coloured Reflections

Coloured Reflections in Grand-Métis, Quebec, Canada by Hal Ingberg Architecte

The following text and images are by Hal Ingberg Architecte for his installation Coloured Reflections: Wrapping and Framing Savage Nature at the International Garden Festival at Reford Gardens in Grand Métis, Quebec, Canada. 2005 marks the third year that the installation has been included in the festival, on display from June 23 - October 2.

For the fourth annual International Garden Festival (2003) at the Reford Gardens, a forested section of the gardens was wrapped in an equilateral triangle (20ft x 20ft x 20ft) of richly coloured semi-reflective glass – capturing three pre-existing birch trees within its confines. The form and limited dimensions of the wrapper created a sense of intimate, courtyard-like enclosure that both framed and intensified the perception of the forest.

From within the enclosure, the color of the glass established a sense of spatial definition, while its semi-reflective surfaces created surprising perceptual readings. This is because of the 60 degree angle of glass corner intersections, the always changing conditions of daylight and seasons as well as the position of trees within and outside the enclosure. From outside the enclosure, the installation had a rather anomalous object quality, insofar as its form was physically understood, all the while reflecting its context of trees and visitors off of itself. It also acted as a receptor for the intensely figural shadows cast by the trees.

"Coloured Reflection" explored issues of visual perception within the context of nature, as well as how ambiguity within this context can result in unexpected richness. As Peter Jacobs wrote in Landscape Architecture magazine,"Those who pause are treated to a fascinating display of the forest reflected against the glass walls, the interior glimpsed through a partially transparent wall, and above all, people watching people watching nature within the forest. The project illustrates the complex processes of reading and relating to nature and the subtle differences among seeing nature directly, through a partially screened and transparent filter, and as a reflection."

The primary material employed was semi reflective, laminated glass sandwiching an interlayer of coloured film. The glass panels were vertically stabilized by triangular anodised aluminium edge beams at the top of the installation as well as at the base (hidden below the earth). Like a stack of cards, there was no visible vertical support, the whole being held together by translucent structural silicone.

The installation insinuated itself into its context like a chameleon. Nothing within the context was altered. Sometimes the semi-reflective glass surfaces even gave the ambiguous impression that there was no installation to be seen.