On May 13, 2015 Matthew Teismann of LIONarchitecture defended his Master's thesis to a committee of eight esteemed professors from Harvard University and others. Teismann's thesis, titled The Inverted View: Spheres, Mirrors, and Architectural Allegory in the Monster Globe, coalesces theoretical aspects of the Monster Globe, not as external to, but intrinsic within, the framework of an imperial project. Derivative of the mid-nineteenth century, the Monster Globe engages larger questions surrounding the Great Exhibition of 1851 and a transition from the Modern to Global Age. Through historical texts, philosophical debates, and architectural provocations, The Inverted Viewdevelops a global model of cartography, narrative, and spatial conception that redefines perception through a hidden architectural impulse.
Present on the committee were the following professors from Harvard University Graduate School of Design: K. Michael Hays, Neil Leach, Sonja Duempelmann, Pierre Bélanger, and Erika Naginski. Other professors on the committee were architectural/urban/landscape historians Lucy Maulsby from Northeastern University, Keith Morgan and Paolo Scrivano from Boston University, geographer Joel Wainwright from Ohio State University.
One month after the opening of London’s Great Exhibition of the Works of Industry in 1851, one of the most compelling purpose-built panoramas was erected by cartographer James Wyld in Leicester Square. Known as the Monster Globe, this gigantic hollow sphere depicted land formations in color relief on its surface. A georama - the globe is inverted so that the exterior surface of the earth is conveyed on the interior surface of the hollow sphere. Continuing the lineage of Barker’s panorama, Wyld’s georama is the first instance where the form of the image mirrored the depicted image’s content.
The Monster Globe exhibits a parallel progression of narrative that produces a certain kind of conceptual knowledge: image, rhetoric, and allegory. Non-causal, this internal conjunctural movement coincides with sociopolitical trends of the British Empire and prefigures emerging conditions of globalization. At first available only as a glimpse, once read, the allegory supersedes the medium of image through the perfomativity of the reflected imperial gaze. Beyond mere historical document The Inverted View explicates how architecture can ground humans ontologically in the space of their environment and the space of their existence.