I am no fan of Kyoto station. The multiplicity of styles and forms that compose the building fail to create a continuity among themselves, and instead seem haphazardly pieced together in competition with one another. Indeed, the station is visually more interesting than the buildings that surround it, but it still fails to stand as anything other than an attempt at wonder. However, there is a part of the station that succeeds in creating a space beyond functionality, finding its way into the realm of art. This space is found at the second floor exit.

At the end of the main hall leading to and from the platform gates a wide staircase cloistered by the polished black marble walls and the gray-black ceiling leads down to a plaza that fronts the station. Along with the black slate floor, these edges create an immense frame, which within holds both a static image of the city beyond and a surging stream of silhouettes flowing in and out of view. It is true that any number of edges that join together to form an enclosure can be perceived as framing that which lies within, but like frames built as frames, not all fit or enhance their contents, and very few create a dynamic relationship with light. It is this relationship; this play with light that endows this space with a true sense of framing.

The hall leading to the exit is quite long and coupled with the lack of windows and the black stone it feels dark. This darkness emphasizes the way the light illuminating the room bounces off the polished black surfaces creates a subtle glistening where it interacts with the texture of the floor. The only source of natural light that enters the hallway pours in from the exit, effectively casting everything in back-light, flattening ones perception of what passes through the frame as paper cutouts in flux upon negative space. This illusion of two dimensional figures moving about a three dimensional space is most pronounced when one stands a little over halfway down the hall from the platform gates. This is due in part to the widening of the room as the roof raises farther up, and the reduction of fluorescent lighting in place of the natural light flooding in from ahead. It is also from this distance that the layers of the frame, or perhaps the layers within the image within the frame, become most visible. The first of which is the framing of light detailed above. Within this frame is a frame framing another framing of a frame framing a frame within a frame.

This effect is created due to how the first frame is constructed not only by the structure of the building, but also by the end of the viewer’s peripheral vision; which helped along by perspective lines the straight edges of the hall create, blend the physicality of the space and one’s ocular perception allowing the first frame to exist wherever the viewer is standing and before the end of the hallway; where the edges of the second frame exist. From this second frame, which most might miss, the rest of the frames’s layering takes shape when one looks carefully at how the image of the city beyond interacts with the lines and edges of the the hallway. Indeed, one of these frames I see should be immediately apparent to all who walk down this hallway, but the others, as I do not know whether or not the architect designed this space intending these frames to be seen I doubt if  anyone other than me can see them without my explanation.

When I first noticed this framing taking place a thrill went through my body. A thrill that I wish I could share, but it is a thrill that I feel must be discovered to be felt, for though I have walked down this hallway for almost two years, every time I do I rediscover the thrill of this space. It is that kind of thrill, and that kind of thrill will evanesce when shared.


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