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Information Experience Design (MA)

Alexandra Topaz

Alexandra Topaz is an exhibition designer, curator, and educator from Jerusalem, currently based in London. Her practice is situated at the intersection of spatial design, exhibitions, 3D modelling, and moving image, employing various experimental formats and research methods.

Alexandra's current research explores the period room as a display strategy within museums and architecture's role in generating narratives. She is particularly interested in how architectural tools and methodologies can effectively convey meaningful stories, exploring themes such as memory, home, identity, and place.

Previously, Alexandra worked as an exhibition designer at the Israel Museum Jerusalem, Israel, and served as a visiting lecturer at the Architectural Department of the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design, Jerusalem. She has also worked independently as a curator and exhibition designer for various exhibitions, including Jerusalem Design Week.

Recent projects include Garden Of Sensory Delights at IRCAM forum 2023, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2023); A Room With A View installation for the LG-Royal College of Art LUMINOUS competition, Old Street Gallery, London (2022); Shema(nis) - what lurks in culture's shadow? audio-visual performance at IKLECTIK ArtLab, London (2022); and the ongoing Boundaries of Existence - Metaverse Art Project Grant, Art Council Korea, London (2023).

Alexandra's study at the RCA is generously supported by the Clore Israel Foundation. She holds a B.Arch (with Honours) from the Bezalel Academy of Arts and Design in Jerusalem (2016).

Alexandra's photo on the background of a window with a view

Think about the first home you lived in. What do you remember of it? 

Homeward / Домой / הביתה explores the power of architecture to teleport us through time, the ability of objects to contain stories, and the way memories unfold within the home.

Through the use of old photographs, drawings, and stories, the project reconstructs past homes in hyper-realistic animated and still images, employing a game engine to revive forgotten spaces. Inspired by forensic architecture methodologies, it is an attempt to go back to a moment in time by visiting the place where that time occurred.

The focal point of the research behind the work is the Period Room: a museological display strategy using a recreation of a domestic, historic interior constructed from pieces of furniture, decorative objects, and architectural elements. Perceived both as a whole and as a collection of objects, it holds a tension between the collective and the subjective notion of home. By using personal memories, the project develops methodologies of remembrance, aiming to evoke a poetic image* and inviting viewers to contemplate the meaning of home in their own lives.

*Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space

Homeward / Домой / הביתה - Excerpts
2. living room 3d collage
cup of tea on table with drawings
hand drawing floorplan
photo collage of corner in a house
photos on table
woman portrait close-up, drawing
3d photo-collage of corner in living room
‘All really inhabited space bears the essence of the notion of home. (...) the imagination functions in this direction whenever the human being has found the slightest shelter (...) An entire past comes to dwell in a new house.’
(Gaston Bachelard, The Poetics of Space)

The video Homeward / Домой / הביתה reconstructs a forgotten childhood home based on my personal memories. Accompanied by a series of digitally created still-life images using real objects and photographs, it explores the plasticity of memory. Through the process of deconstruction and re-composition, the film captures an elusive image of home, expanding its collective notion through the lens of personal stories and memories. By inviting viewers to reflect on their own memories and images of home, this project delves into how our identity is manifested within our homes and how our homes shape our identity.

The video portrays the reconstruction of my earliest remembered home in Jerusalem, which I moved into after immigrating from Moscow, Russia. It is based on a blueprint I sketched from memory and photographs sourced from my family album.

carpet collage 2
1. The collage is composed using fragments cut from various photographs taken at different times and places where the carpet resided in our homes over the years.
3. a plan on a paper and a curtain with a print of a view from a window
2. Left: A digital trompe-l'œil of a floorplan drawing on paper depicting my first home in Jerusalem, 1991-2001 | 3. Right: A curtain with a printed image of the view from a window in our home in Jerusalem, winter 1992.
still life with cups
4. Digital still-life with Flowers, Teacups and Brachychiton Seed Pods, 2023
5. still life with guitar and matrioshka
5. Digital still-life with a Matryoshka, Gjel teapot, and Guitar, 2023.
still life with pinecone
6. Digital still-life with a Pinecone, Grappa Wine Bottle, and Venice Picture. After Ksenia Topaz's 'Still Life in Jerusalem, 1997', 2023.
The Studiolo: a collection of memory objects

Notes on Memories within Objects

A digital collage reconstructs a Persian carpet that has been a constant companion, travelling with me through the different houses I've lived in. My parents brought it from Russia to Israel, and in every place we lived, it underwent a transformation. In our first home, it was hung on the wall next to my bed. Later, as I started my own family, we placed it on the floor of our living room. The collage is composed using fragments cut from various photographs taken at different times and places where the carpet resided in our homes over the years.

The project began with a short hands-on exercise: drawing from memory all the floorplans of the homes I have lived in. I could recall eight permanent ones. The most interesting part was how the act of drawing on paper became a method for remembering, like a device. As soon as I started drawing, memories of places, objects, corners, events, and sometimes photographs taken immediately emerged.

The winter of 1992, our first winter in Israel, was the coldest and rainiest winter in 90 years. My mom recalls how strange it felt to experience snow through Israeli eyes. Everyone was excited, and the city fell completely silent as nobody was prepared for this weather condition. For her, coming from freezing Moscow, snow was a regular occurrence every winter, but this snow was extraordinary.

A ceramic Gzhel kettle, a sugar bowl, and a wooden Khokhloma bowl travelled with us from Russia to Israel and to all of the houses we lived in. I remember the smell of the wooden bowl filled with black tea leaves and that time when someone accidentally broke the sugar bowl. The crack where we glued it back together is still visible. Gzhel is a Russian style of blue and white ceramics named after the village of Gzhel and the surrounding area, where it has been produced since 1802. Khokhloma is a style of Russian folk art dating back to the 17th century. It gets its name from a village in Central Russia that became a trading post where local craftsmen brought their brightly decorated tableware to sell.

I remember my dad singing songs to us while playing this guitar, mostly Russian songs. Later on, I realized that his initials were inscribed on the guitar (which also came with us from Russia).

Tradescantia zebrina, previously known as Zebrina pendula, is a creeping plant species belonging to the Tradescantia genus. It is commonly referred to as silver inch plant or Wandering Jew. It is known for its resilience and adaptability, as it can thrive in nearly any environment. This particular Wandering Jew was brought by my father from Russia to Israel, and he has fond memories of having it at home during his childhood.
period room installation with a window depicting a replica of the room, with 3 people in the room
installation render
view from window
room with window
rooms duplicated
rooftops view from window
rooftops view

A multi-sensory installation presenting a room from the turn of the 20th century, using game engines to generate hyperreal views seen from a window within the room. 

Inspired by the first photograph ever taken in history, depicting a view from a window in 1826, and Simulation Theory in 2003, the installation critiques the way we perceive the world around us, questioning what is real, and what is simulated.

A Room With A View was created by Alex in collaboration with Devanshi Rungta and Laura Selby, as part of an LG-Royal College of Art competition where it won second place. It was exhibited in the LUMINOUS exhibition in September 2022 in Old Street Gallery, London. Alex was responsible for concept development, set design, 3D visuals, and animation.


Exhibition text:

We use our senses to perceive the world, but what if our senses deceive us? How does the screen’s presence in our life affect our perception of what is real? Is all of this real or a mere simulation?

The first photograph ever taken in history was of a view from a window (View from the Window at Le Gras, 1826). It was a critical moment in history in which, through technology, reality was flattened onto a surface by means of light. It marked the shift in the way we perceive the world around us - flattened, framed, duplicated. 

A Room With A Viewrefers to the first photograph through the lense ofSimulation Theory. Almost 200 years afterView from the Window at Le Gras was taken, we are surrounded by screens in all shapes and sizes. Developments in technology have allowed not only for the mundane to be compressed again and again onto screens, but for new worlds to emerge from these devices - imitating the real - and changing it. 

The room before you presents a space from the turn of the 20th century in which the OLED accurate picture quality and cinematic sound features, depict a view seen from the window. Upon closer inspection, the view is realised to be computer-generated, a crafted illusion of the outside world, enhanced by a soundworld of auditory perception in a state of flux. Using game engine rendering software, the installation reflects on the technological progression towards hyper-realistic environments in games and XR experiences.

Our encounter with the world today is constantly filtered through screens, affecting the high quality images we consume and also our material surroundings. While our body is present in the physical world, our mind perceives virtual realities that transcend time and place, teleporting us into parallel worlds. The installation reflects upon this tension between the virtual and the physical, inviting visitors to question and critique what is real, and what is simulated.


2-channel OLED panel installation in a 3X2.5 set design, with sound, 6 min loop, 2022.
3d model of home and collage
3d model of home and collage
3d model of home and collage
3d model of home and collage

The film 'As If You Are Walking In A Certain Past' (2022) is a reconstruction of a home in which I once resided but cannot recall. It holds particular significance in my personal history as it was the last place I lived before immigrating from Russia to Israel. Through interviews with my parents, research conducted via Google Maps and online archives, as well as extensive material exploration on the USSR during the 1980s-1990s, I constructed a model of that elusive home. This endeavor aimed to revisit a lost memory and serves as the foundation of my ongoing research.

RCA Clore-Bezalel Scholarship