Lecture by Thomas Kelley

Thomas Kelley, FAAR
Partner, Norman Kelley
22 October 2014
Kocimski Auditorium

Kelley reexamines and rehearses visual deception through architectural drawing. From the 18th-century developed surface drawings of Thomas Lightoler to Daniel Liebskind’s collaged misprojections in “Micromegas,” the capacity to baffle reality through drawing has led to innovative strategies in how we conceive of an architecture. Though often denigrated as a stylistic trope, or worse, a gimmick, eye-con drawing suggests how two-dimensional projection can be used to alter three-dimensional space. And although the effects may not always be immediate, or even legible, it remains a form of representation that conditions the observer to pay close attention.

By misappropriating a catalog of drawing conventions and illusory devices—to include anamorphosis, false shadow projection and reversible figuration—Kelley’s work is twofold. It reveals an alternative historical account of architecture’s relationship to vision and disciplines a set of techniques from which to prey on the naive observer. Like a child taunting a parent, Kelley’s drawings task the observer to consider that what they see is something they do not always know.

Thomas Kelley grew up in Canberra, Berlin, Warsaw, Tegucigalpa, Oxford, Lima, and Washington, D.C. Previously, he has worked in Charlottesville, Va., for Future-Cities-Lab and in São Paulo for Brasil Arquitetura Studio. Since then he has worked for Asymptote Architecture in New York and Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill in Chicago. White Elephant, his work with Jimenez Lai of Bureau Spectacular, is part of the permanent collection at the Museum of Modern Art in New York. In addition, his work has been exhibited in New York, Chicago and São Paulo.

In 2012-2013, Kelley was the recipient of the Reyner Banham Fellowship at the University at Buffalo School of Architecture and Planning. He currently is the James R. Lamantia, Jr. Rome Prize Fellow at the American Academy in Rome and a visiting assistant professor at the University of Illinois at Chicago. He operates a design collaborative with Carrie Norman based out of Chicago and New York City under the pseudonym Norman Kelley.

Kelley’s lecture is part of “Spatial Geographies: Surface Practices,” the Fall 2014 ISU Architecture Advisory Council Lecture Series. The Iowa State University Department of Architecture is celebrating its centennial in 2014.