In 1997, Charles LaBelle began a drawing project of sketching every building before he entered them. This idea originated from his fear he had developed upon entering buildings; the buildings extended several meters above ground and overwhelmed him. LaBelle felt as if he was being swallowed and engulfed by the towering construction. Following an advice from his friend, LaBelle began 'sizing up' each building before entering them, taking photographs and keeping a record of its date, time and location. LaBelle grew increasingly fond of the wave of self-consciousness that overcame him through the simple act of looking at a building. As the artist described, "Suddenly, I didn't fear being 'swallowed-up' but I felt like I was the one who was swallowing the world one building at a time."
I was rather impressed by the details of the sketches of the various buildings as well as the initial idea behind the project. Essentially, LaBelle reduced every building to a size not larger than an A5 size piece of paper, so that the building is not only less dominating, but also seems much more fragile and prone to the 'destruction' of the artist himself. The details paid to each building is also incredible; the sketches are realistic.
By sketching every building he entered and recording the time, date and location of the sketches, LaBelle is also keeping a documentation of his personal experiences and encounters throughout his life (at least since he started sketching). For example, his sketches of the Esplanade, TaiBei 101, the Lovre, ... suggests that he has travelled to Singapore, Taiwan, London, and many other countries. There were even drawings of buildings we often pay little attention to, such as the seven-eleven store.
If you have also noticed from the pictures below, his sketches were all drawn on torn-out pages from a book, with most lines taped white, while some interesting phrases were left visible to the viewers, such as "Fragment on Knowledge, on the Fact of Action and on Questioning", "A nightmare is my truth and nakedness." as well as "in the realm of the senses". Perhaps he felt that the documentation of his experiences could be akin to recording his life story, using sketches instead of words. The words left untaped could also be phrases which reflects his feelings and thoughts upon the encounter with the building. Most phrases left me deep in thought and I found particularly thought-provoking.
What started as a personal project, evolved to become a documentation of his life: