Benchmark Presentation 1 – in script
This thesis process began with my interest in the study of site and site analysis through experience.
In looking back at much of my own work from the past 4 years of my architectural education, I realized a certain attitude taken toward site in my own projects and those of my peers. Our attitude toward site became one of objectivity. In many cases, we look for definable instances and occurrences on site to begin a process of reasonable and justifiable moves. Our self proclaimed justifications must be explainable to our professors and our peers though a series of judgments and products. What gets lost in these translations, in some cases, is the real and describable experience of the student. Our experience becomes object to our explanations.
This thesis will attempt to bring experience back into the realm of architectural objects made on sites.
My initial studies began through this blog as I was reading the work A Thousand Platues. Here, Delueze and Guatari give description to rhizomatic mappings of space and place. A rhizome is a map, a story, lines in many directions, which rupture to create new paths, new tracings, new ruptures. It is a multiplicity which does not have a center or point. A multiplicity is not a tree, which has a 2-1 ratio system from trunk to branches to leaves. A multiplicity is an ocean or a dessert, an a-center system.
How might I create these kinds of mappings within my interests of the experience of place and time.
Our attempt to reason environments and sites falls short of the multiplicities, intensities, and assemblages found on sites. Deluze asks us to shift our attention of sites to assemblages rather than structures, to understand relationships as connectedness rather than hierarchy. He asks us to allow intensities to pass over us, so we may experience a place before we focus in on particular aspects. Aspects and objects will arise out of these experiences. A predominate question of this thesis is…What is the immanence of site?
So, how do sites become manifest to our perceptions? Through this blog and the process of documenting site, photography became the mediating system in capturing these manifestations, in order to look back at past experiences, to pull pieces together and apart, to create assemblages of once experienced sites. Rather than looking at site based on intentionality, I developed objectified systems for seeing subjectively, systems to create particular unexpected experiences. The subjective seeing comes after the event transpires digitally in the photograph.
I began to ask myself how duration and movement in photography and the capturing of sites influence the way we look at things? I wonder how photography itself might be manipulated in order to bring forth relationships that are more closely related to how we experience sites.
In Greek philosophy, the perception of time takes on a unique quality. In Robert Pirsig’s Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintinance, Pirsig states, that “the Greeks saw the future as something that came upon that from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes.” When you think about it, that’s a more accurate a metaphor than our present one. “Who really can face the future?”
In the same sense, if what exists now is all we have, what might we learn from how sites present themselves to us through experience. Subjective experience is undeniable to our perceptions. As human beings, we relate to each other becuase many of these subjective perceptions are similar in nature. For instance, we all experience time, almost all of us have 5 sense ability, and we all move and relate to the world in similar patterns. We create things from these projections of the future based on the perceptions of what we see from the past.
In other words, subjective experience of one can have relationships and connectedness to the experience of others. This is how the profession of architecture is defined. We design spaces which will ultimately be the context for the subjective experience of others.
So, because this process of site study will focus on photography as the medium for capturing experience and looking back on these experience, I must look at how places have traditionally been captured through photgraphy to gain insite on the methods and problems surrounding this particular medium.
In John Szarkowski’s Stock Exchangers, there is focus on object. It is a classic example of composition, with the object (the stock exchangers) creating the foreground focus and the setting (the arch) creating the retreated background. The blurred cars describe that the method of photography as capturing a duration of time is not totally instantaneous.
In Peter Anisworth’s Concrete Island, he explores a particular place in order to discover beauty among the filth. In these photographs, he moves among the place and captures subtleties which may seem ordinary, but through photography, he makes art. What kind of experience is this? I see Concrete Island as an example of intentionality, like the ruin porn captured so often by magazines in order to describe the Detroit landscape. This is an experience of structure rather than assemblage.
In Ripped by John Clang, the photographer selects a stationary position in space to allow a particular type of intensity to be captured. Time and duration are inserted in a particular way, through a kind of system which creates an assemblage of a type. There is a certain level of predictability in this case, although the particular faces and bodies captured where not predicted. what if the photographer had established a location that contained less predictability in capturing.
In this precedent, David Hockney has created photo collages of not just objects, but experiences of objects. In a way, it is map to his experience. The people move, and he moves at the same time. The cubist notion of forth dimensional space is present, that is space of duration and time rather than 3 dimensional object space. He has established a particular method for capturing things, but what if this method changes or each experience he attempted to capture? What would his collages look like then?
Through diagramming, I begin to understand the methods used in each of these precedents. The first three describe non moving photographers, although there capturings may describe movement or duration. The forth Hockney diagram describes a situation where image is a product of moving experience. The dominating factor is the authors relationship to the site or setting. The photography becomes an image of experience.
In my first sketch problem, I hoped to explored how experience unfolds and is recollected.
This site was not particularly chosen. I happened to be traveling to Torch Lake for a weekend trip with some other students for an AIA event and decided that I would take my camera and attempt an exploration within the landscape. I spoke about the trip before I went with another professor, and he said something like…. You will know when the time is right.
We where at a camp site on Torch Lake, Michigan, a beautiful place with nature trails, beaches, and stunning sun sets. On Saturday afternoon, another friend and I decided to take a walk through the woods towards to water. As we hasted down the hill, I began taking photographs looking south as we walked/stumbled down the hill. Rather than any concern for composition or accuracy, I was only looking to capture this experience. When I brought the series back to my computer, I began to organize them using the horizon as the orienting link between each image. What I discovered through this process was that experience is not linear. Elements are repeated in images from varying degrees and perspectives creating an image-time map of objects.
Looking at the compilation as whole and considering how the photo’s where organized on the horizon line, the dominance of foreground the background is clear only through the contrast of either ground or sky. How might I make this relationship come forth?
In modeling this relationship, the context of the place was made by first recreating the setting for the photograph (top). Then, all elements pressed into the contrast of the sky (background) where folded up. On the foreground side of the horizon, the elements were folded, or punctured through. This way, the model turns photograph into image. The context literally folds forth the relationship of the compression of the photograph to the dynamic perception which the landscape reveals. In other words, the perceptual division between foreground and background is revealed based on the position of one’s body to the image. Through this exercise, a discovery unfolds of how we see sight, not just site. It is a process of questioning photographed representations of reality in comparison with what is real to experience, to “critically look” in order to “critically see,” to critically photography places in order to critically reveal site through sight.
What sights will I see next?
So, where will I go next to see sight? Where will I go to vision my next image or process of image making.
I am interested in collections of experiences. In my study at Torch Lake, photography helped to collect a specific experience that was an event of my being there. How will I begin to bring other kinds of collections of experiences together in order to study photographically. In many cases, architectural students use ariel view maps to represent places. This site map, however, was constructed through a revealing of a collection of experience through entering a place. It is a map of pieces of Detroit, made through the extension of particular experiences of edges and entrances to the city.
I plan to revisit one or two of these nodes to see what I can see. I will have a certain attention toward the whole from which I am extracting this experience which might serve as a kind of objectified tool to experience one or tow of these particular places. Photography brings be close to things, to places, and gets me in contact with my collections of experiences.
Conclusions for now…
Certain types of intentionality objectify our lived experiences. For example, a professor presents a project for his students to design a museum. The students drive to the site to take pictures of the place their project will sit, all the while imagining what their museum might look like. They arrive at the site and begin to see conditions which objectively shape this preconceived form in their minds. This form creates a dialogue between the history of constructed museums anywhere, and the specific problems the site presents in resistance to the students formal idea. This resistance is the problem. This thesis attempts to reverse the condition of this problem in order to gain new insights which might reveal the significance of site in relationship to built architectural forms and functions.