Some window view drawings

With so many people around the world being forced to stay at home, our windows have taken on a much more profound and metaphoric function than ever before. In essence, they have become our primary point of visual contact with the world — a contact that both protects and separates us, but at the same time unites us.

This familiar hole in the wall, to which we had probably never paid much attention, has suddenly become an imposing snapshot of a moment — a huge and strange moment that we are living together from inside our homes and our selves.

Francesco Pozzoli, 13 years old, from Milan (Italy)

About a month ago, when Italy went into lockdown, on my Facebook page I asked people to share a drawing of their window view together with a short text. I’ve received many amazing contributions, many of which from kids. Check my Facebook page to view them — they convey a powerfully shared feeling of anxiety, suspension, nostalgia, and hope.

It would be wonderful if as many of you as possible, wherever you are around the world, contributed to this collection of viewpoints. Take a moment to observe what you see out your window and then try drawing it using the window to frame the view. Then write a paragraph describing it. What do you see? How far can you see (“far” both in space and time)? And how does the view reflect back on you? What do you notice that you hadn’t seen before?

Christian Rotella, 14 years old, from Borgaro Torinese (Italy)

Please share this post as much as possible. Then draw, tell, and share your window views! In the end we will have a collective vision of the world as seen through the eyes of a multitude of individuals who are sharing a common experience.

If you would like me to see your work (and perhaps share it), please mention my name or my Matteo Pericoli public page so I can find it; and please use the hashtags #mywindowview and #windowsontheworld.

Click here to view the post on Facebook:

È finalmente arrivato!
Finestre su New York: 63 visioni sulla Grande Mela, un libro (e una copertina) da aprire.

“63 visioni di New York. 63 sguardi dalle finestre di artisti, registi, scrittori, musicisti, filosofi, scienziati e persone comuni che Matteo Pericoli ha incontrato, per poi ritrarne gli scorci e realizzare una storia inedita della Grande Mela: il racconto della città, fatto di sensazioni e confessioni, da parte di alcuni tra i suoi personaggi più famosi.

Matteo Pericoli disegna ognuna di queste intime vedute, intrecciandole per comporre un quadro più grande dei meri limiti urbani della città. E così ci invita a compiere un gesto insolito per la frenesia delle nostre vite: affacciarci alla nostra finestra, rimanere qualche secondo a scrutare e interrogare il mondo, fino a diventare una cosa sola con ciò che vediamo.”

Selezione di rassegna stampa:

Alcuni appuntamenti:

  • Lunedì 27 gennaio 2020 ore 19: Presentazione e inaugurazione mostra “Finestre su New York”, Colibrì, Milano — con Azzurra Muzzonigro

  • Giovedì 12 dicembre 2019 ore 8:30: CAP10100, Torino — con CreativeMornings Turin

  • Martedì 10 dicembre 2019 ore 21: La Galleria del Libro, Ivrea — con Gianmario Pilo

  • Mercoledì 27 novembre 2019 ore 18: Eggers 2.0, Torino — con Alessio Cuffaro e Gianmario Pilo

  • Sabato, 16 novembre 2019 ore 17:30: Combo, Milano (per Bookcity) — con Marta Cereda

The New Yorker, September 12, 2011 issue

In one of my rarely-opened drawers, I stumbled across this September 12, 2011 issue of The New Yorker magazine with a portion of my original, 2001 West Side drawing from Manhattan Unfurled (top) and a 2011 drawing of the same section of the skyline (from Canal St. to the Battery).

Click here to watch a New Yorker video about the making of the drawing:

From the LabLitArch News page  

The first workshop was held in April, in collaboration with professor Marco Maggi of USI University of Lugano (CH), Institute of Italian Studies, and organized by the City of Lugano.
An array of participants, including USI literary students, graduate design students, and two selfless local architects (Flora and Michela), attended. Professor Maggi’s area of research, which focuses on the “mental space” of the reader, allowed for a more in-depth exploration of how a literary text “carves out” a space from within the mind of the reader.
While working with one of professor Maggi’s students who has been visually impaired since birth, we realized how her ability to deduce an architectural space (obviously only its interior since its exterior shape isn’t perceivable to her) is incredibly similar to how a reader perceives the “structure” of a literary text, where words function not so much as “building blocks”, but more as excavating toolsthat actively create space by subtracting material from a solid mass (imagine, for example, the city of Petra in Jordan). A story, in fact, is obviously un-knowable from the “outside” and it’s only once we’ve begun to penetrate it (by reading it) that we start to slowly create a perception about its “construction”.
For this edition we worked on texts by HemingwayDeliusTabucchi and A.M. Homes. Here is a short video on our 20+ hours of practically continuous work: YouTube LabLitArch Lugano Video

The second workshop was LabLitArch’s very first experiment with music. It was in fact called “Laboratory of Musical Architecture”. It was held in May, in collaboration with professor Andrea Malvano of the University of Turin’s Department of Humanities. Professor Malvano, who has degrees in both literature and music (piano), selected pieces by BachSchumannSchoenberg and Glass. The participants, all trained musicians or music students, worked with two experienced LabLitArch architects (Michelle Vecchia and Alessio Lamarca) to produce five amazing models:

We applied the very same methodology and approach used in many Literary Architecture workshops, i.e. working mostly backwards in search of possible motivating and implicit original inclinations that were at the basis of the creation of the musical pieces. As with literary texts, we avoided manifesting what is somewhat already explicit in the music. By working in the opposite direction, so to speak, we tried to get as close as possible, if it is even ever attainable, to the composer’s original creative sparkor insight or intuition.

This led us to the realization that, in music as in literature, movement in this direction forces us to leave our familiar disciplinary turf and we end up reaching a kind of expansive narrative ground probably common to most human artistic endeavors. Perhaps there indeed exists a sudden creative impulse, which is neither made of words nor of notes — it’s just there, as a not-yet-manifest expression of a narrative intuition. If so, narrative is truly all-pervasive. And architecture, with its fundamental narrative elements such as volume, space, light, weight, revelations, suspension, etc. seems to be an ideal tool to analyze, explore and even enter this boundless space of narrative.

Insight from both of these workshops will hopefully be included in the Literary Architecture book I am working on with Il Saggiatore. Work is progressing well and, as an additional sneak preview, I would like to share this new sketch of the book’s structurehere. At first glance, it may not seem so different from the previous sketch; but to me, and my very-limited writing experience, it represents a huge step forward!

Check the original post from the LabLitArch website:

It’s finally here and it is so exciting to see the Laboratory of Literary Architecture in a major academic publication! The Routledge Companion on Architecture, Literature and The City, edited by Jonathan Charley, features a chapter on the LabLitArch, which includes a narrative on the genesis of the laboratory, images, project samples, the Literary Architecture series, as well as a dialogue between professors Carola Hilfrich and Jonathan Charley about the pedagogical implications of the LabLitArch.

Excerpts from the dialogue between professors Carola Hilfrich and Jonathan Charley:

“One of the valuable features of the LabLitArch project is that it seems to suggest a ludic alternative to a super-rationalized modern education system.”

“It sets up a process of playful experimentation … that has all the edginess, marginality, contingency, and frustration as well as the serious stakes in liberating our thought from habitual constraints.”

“Seeing the process at work felt like being in loophole of knowledge production; a place where participants, thrown out of the respective boxes of their home disciplines, move into a hybrid, interactive, and reconfigurable field.”

“I think of Matteo’s Laboratory as a unique environment for exploring the potential of … moments where literature and architecture, words and buildings and spaces, readability and inhabitability intertwine with humans.”

“Asking us to put our hands on works of literature by architecturally removing their verbal skins, the LabLitArch makes us grasp their actual texture rather than their form or meaning, so as to shape it, collaboratively, as a habitable space.”

“LabLitArch is perhaps most transformative for our thinking and doing at moments of counter-intuition, competing intuitions, mixed intuition, or intuitions that fail us; and that its emphasis on intuition, or gut feeling, includes loops through the whole body and its more intentional responses, as well as through the imagination and the environment.”

“Matteo’s Laboratory is itself a theory of intuition and failure. Intriguingly, its teaching method in collaboratively haptic creativity advances from the outset a non-subjectivist approach; and it does produce end-results, in the form of architectural projects.”

Details here:
And here:

Prague, March 29, 2018

It’s a great honor to be part of Amnesty International’s “I WELCOME” campaign through this Art for Amnesty project exhibited at DOX Centre for Contemporary Art in Prague.

When I was asked to participate I wondered: “What do I do?”, “What do I welcome?”, “What have I learned from my predictable kind of work? I make drawings and I draw, among other things, what people see out their windows. So, what have I learned from doing this seemingly simple thing?”
I thought about it.
I thought I had learned about perspective.
I thought I had learned about expectations.
I thought I had learned about inspirations.
And, perhaps, I had learned about aspirations.
Window views, I thought, are metaphors of one’s journey through life. They are static, but they are also incredibly dynamic. I realized that they are also mirrors as they force us to reflect on ourselves and our lives.

So Art for Amnesty’s founder Bill Shipsey and I wondered, “What would we envision for a project like this?”
And the answer was: “A magical, open window onto a world in which all places, those that today are privileged and self-centered — like me, like where I come from — are intertwined with those from which people are escaping.”
We are one, single, big thing on earth, and we all want happiness. But if we lived in a world that embodied what some politicians are proclaiming today, we would be living in a world made of walls with no windows, where we, the privileged, would also be living in darkness.

See the “I WELCOME” drawing here:[/av_one_full]

A newly edited LabLitArch video.
Special thanks to Twin Pixel Video and Al-Johara Beydoun (words).

Visit for more information.

The LITERARY ARCHITECTURE SERIES, the series based on The Laboratory of Literary Architecture, has ended. In it, I have shared some of my designs and what they reveal about the stories they are modeled on. The series has been featured in The Paris Review Daily since May 2016 and, until December 2016, also in the Italian national newspaper La Stampa. As of February 2017, the Italian series has been featured in the Italian weekly Pagina 99.

To view the entire series in The Paris Review:

by Matteo Pericoli

More than anything else, I believe that line drawings reveal more clearly the decision-making process, the omissions: a line drawing must speak clearly, purposefully, and synthesize reality. Other techniques, such as sketching, painting, and photography, have a more direct, one could say, relationship with reality. They try to transfer as closely as possible onto the medium (paper, canvas, wood, etc.) the way our brain sees the world. A line drawing instead, before being produced, goes through an additional, narrative process during which the draftsperson asks herself such questions as: “Do I need to add another line in order to show what one line is already showing?” Or: “How many lines do I need in order to describe this detail as clearly as possible without drawing too many lines?”

Line drawings are obviously closely related to, and derive from, architectural drawings — i.e. technical and detailed drawings that have strong language-like rules. In fact, they are documents (as in construction documents) that convey very precise information about both the aesthetic appearance as well as the materials of a building. The clearer the architectural drawing, the easier it will be for the observer to appreciate its compositional qualities or its construction technique.

I was still working at Richard Meier’s architectural studio in New York when I decided in 1998 to try and use the very kind of architectural descriptive lines I had been using at the office to describe the island of Manhattan in its entirety. I had just taken the Circle Line boat tour around the island to see what had previously been invisible to me until that point (by being inside it): the city itself. Thus I tried to transfer the slow, revelatory progression of the boat experience into a similarly long and slow-progressing drawing (it takes years to complete these unfurled drawings) that would show everything rather than something. In fact, the issue I had been grappling with since I’d moved to New York in 1995 was that the city seemed to be too hard to grasp as a whole. It could be described in pieces, sections, areas — the famous buildings standing above everything else with little relationship with the whole. “What would drawing everything, without any selection, feel like in the end?” I asked myself. “And if I draw everything with as few lines as I can, with funny waves, and without measuring or using a ruler, will the result be a drawing that kids would want to color and interact with?”

Line drawing is first and foremost a cognitive tool. By drawing everything, I was hoping to understand and therefore share the city as a whole. I realized, of course, that the whole of Manhattan Unfurled was much more than the sum of its parts. That by drawing everything you end up learning a lot, yet it’s hard to explain what that is with words. It’s a different kind of knowledge. The same happened with London Unfurled, my other large urban project. Cities, and especially large cosmopolitan cities, afford a unique opportunity to draw the most intricate, complex and interesting range of architectural ideas at once. In the case of London, I went from knowing practically nothing about a city where I had never lived (instead, I had lived in New York for several years before starting to work on Manhattan Unfurled) to knowing all of its buildings that are visible from the Thames. Throughout the process, what I drew of the city of London became slowly engraved in my brain, sometimes even overwriting the visual imagery that I had been absorbing of the new city I had just moved to at that time (Turin, Italy).

The idea of reducing an entire city into miniature was turned upside down when I was commissioned to work on a drawing that would occupy a 120-meter long, five-storey high wall at JFK’s American Airlines Terminal. Skyline of the World is an imaginary skyline where seventy cities from around the world are intertwined. It’s an imaginary place where many famous landmarks are drawn side by side with anonymous locations from around the world; where all rules of proportions and perspective, of sequencing and concatenation are abandoned in order to replicate our idea of travel, rather than the actual places. A memory of a journey is a memory in which time and space blend. They both seem to vanish, as distances and places tend to be compressed into a single-yet-intense detailed blur. After a trip, the famous landmark you just visited will often be imprinted in your brain as much as the undistinguished building you saw from your hotel room window. Also, in memories, scale and perspective follow their own rules. Thus Skyline of the World is a drawing in which one city dissolves into the next without following a predictable course. The same city may appear in multiple places throughout the drawing, and the buildings in the foreground appear smaller at times than similar sized buildings in the background. What is in front does not necessarily obstruct what is behind.

Line drawing is a fantastic yet demanding technique. Just like writing, its narrative potential lies in each line’s ability to express as much information as possible by being in that precise location and not in any other.