october 8th: presentation 1

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.




Greek Cameraman

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?

Precedent Diagrams                              

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.

Torch Lake

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.

september 21st: self-defined

The following is a collection of self-defined vocabulary which will be accumulated throughout the year.  The aim of this exercise is to clarify how specific terms will be used in the context of this thesis project….

experience –a synthesis of perceptions of space and time which are connected and brought into consciousness through the flows of memory;  experiences are lived.  Lived experience precede cognition and intentionality.  Reflecting, remembering, and relooking at place helps to reaccess experience through image.

image – a representation of experience describing the lived world. Layers of information of experience in space and time.

imaging – “an exercise of agency, actively unfolding, generating, and actualizing emergent realities” James Corner – Recovering Landscapes

photography -a method of capturing or recording the experience of light in the environment; a tool connected to the movement of the body through space; a means of  recording places and sites for further analysis.

photograph – a record of visual occurrences at a particular event in time and space; a duration of time in which light is captured and recorded

perceptions – the way we see things; a capability which varies upon ones conditions in the environment, the bodily functions which allow the environment to be captured through experience

memory – memory exists in the relam of image.  It is in the webs of memory, not on facts or information, that experience exists.  Imagination and image attempt to create flows of describable phenomena through memory.  The way we move through our own minds.

Sight – a perception which recognizes particular places in 3 dimensional form.  A process of experiencing space through light, color, shadow, reflection… A perception of duration and movement which establishes positions and orientations based on 3 dimensional space.

Seeing/ to see – to interrogate the sight perception.  To analyze sight in order to describe the phenomena of the way space presents itself in particular environments.

september 20th: photo, site, object

Studies on photography.  Site: Camp ground on Torch Lake, Michigan.

What is the capacity of a photograph?  How is a photograph a site? What can a photograph show/reveal about an experience?  How can this understanding of perception lead to a revelation of an experience?  What is the revelation?


Photograph as site. Lets first ignore the content of the image and ask what the image is made from.  It is made from an experience between body and mind, between environment and the cameras capacity to capture light in the environment.  The perception of this image is closely related to the perception of reality.  Reality is connected to the bodies perception of sensory stimulation.  What part of this stimulation does the photograph capture?  The photgraph is realted to the stimulus captured by the eye.

How are experiences recalled? (Experience as a reference to the past)  Virillio suggestions experience is recalled through image collection, or a method of loci, a topographical system of memory.  Images a collected from experience in one’s memory and recalled through pulling images forward.  Image is the predominant factor in experience perception.  How can this perception be explored and described?



In this study, pixels are extracted from one photograph to describe the actual colors which make up the image.  Each color block contains a color present in the image of the forest.  Rather than focusing on the story of the image, a focus on fact of content can reveal presences which are bound up in the forms and analogies associated with the image itself.




What can be stated about the character of this place or setting when the dialogue is not about beauty of interpretation but rather about the main characteristics of the image.  reflection. orientation. blur. suspend. float. What is there? Is the sun now rising instead of setting? Is this what the other side of the world sees?




september 1st: abstract

This thesis will begin with an exploration of site and the processes of site analysis.  To make, to design, to build, a creator must have place or a location for her works.  And what if the place comes first?  What can be discovered from a site before any idea is conceived about what might be made there?  Photography is one method, a favorite among architecture students, to capture images of a place.  I stand at the corner opposite my site, the lens snaps, and I have captured a moment of the history of the place.  Photography captures slices of time,what might even be called a method of preserving the present.


Detroit will provide the context for investigating the questions surrounding the image of a place.  What is the image of landscape?  Photography used as a system for capturing places in time provides an objectified method of data collecting on a site.  A photograph itself is removed from the view it captures, therefore opening up an opportunity to find ways to bring that image back to it’s context.  These types of limitations of photography might enhance the tool if used systematically.  The issue of  imitation and replication of experience could be tied back to the photographers actual, personal experience on the site.


Architect’s carry a handbag of graphic tools to present concepts.  How might photographic replacements of standard sections, plans, or elevations change a designers relationship to the site?  The methods in which photography is used to capture a site is usually about composition, the most interesting vantage point, or the most beautiful or textural detail.  However, if systems are used to organize how the site is captured through the lens, unexpected revelations may be discovered in the images that are pieced back together.


There exists a certain perception that photographs of places show us real relationships of objects and voids on a site, but I have realized that photos can only capture glimpses of time and relationships.  If a site is considered a void, then what is captured in a photograph is a still of the intensities and action of the stuff of the site.  What methods of photograph could capture the changing, non-still, non-void occurrences of a place?


In “Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” by Robert Pirsig, the author turns to Greek philosophy to describe a different kind of perception of time.  Pirsig writes, “They saw the future as something that came upon them from behind their backs with the past receding away before their eyes… Who really can face the future?”  In the flow of time, we can only truly study the past occurrences of a site, it is all we can capture.  Where does photography fall within this flow?  The photographer is looking into the past, as the future flows through the lens and projects forward.  How might a photos memory of a place relate to the photographers real experience there?  What story do these projections unfold?



august 31st: re_flect – pro_ject 2

A month of ideas in June.   Time to reflect, filter, and make decisions about what is important, what draws me, what I could care less about, and what I want to move forward with.  For the past 2 months, I have not posted here, but have spent time reading and letting some thoughts soak for a while.  What is the plan for this blog now, and how should I move forward?

Well, rather than letting my june project sit on its own, I have decided  to use this site as a forum to create my thesis book, or maybe I will call it a journal, for the project that I will be embarking on for the next 9 months to earn my Master’s Degree in Architecture at UDM.  I may not post everyday, but I like the idea of transparency of thought, record keeping, and archiving a process that can be accessed by many.  I think it would have a very positive effect on my work. The following are reflections of selected posts, the first set of multiplicities.

       June 1st Multiplicities – ruptures, flights from paths which create new paths.  Infinite combination.  More than cause and effect, more like action and event – decision, observation, occurrence, instance, strata.

       June 3rd Cuts – photography as a system. non-hierarchical results.  experiential data collections.

       June 4th Tracings – time and photography, photographic capture of the present.  slices of experience containing information about a place.  Replication and imitation.  What is more real? – the photograph or the place?  what is the difference between the two?  what is the relationship of photograph to place? of photgraph to photographer? and place to photographer?

       June 7th Grids – layers of landscape infrastructure. Hierarchy.  What non-hierarchical functions of a city can be revealed in the system itself?

June 9th Holes – deteritorialized spaces and places.  The relationship of the viewer to the portal or view.  The importance of viewer presence in relationship to the hole or to the place.  Non-voids create voids.

  June 14th/20th Trumbull – like cuts, experiential sections.  What traditional graphic representations could be reevaluated or recreated through experience.  ie: a self made photographic Google map. a photographed floor plan.  what layers of information can be abstracted from such analysis.

       June 23rd Body without Organs – Desire: to allow unpredictable events to occur, a flow, which dies at conclusions.  The ability to allow oneself to be open to the intensites which corss over a site, a place, or oneself.  To allow a certain consistency of openness and desire.  To be a body without organs, only allowing the intensities of surrounding strata to influence one’s own perceptions.  To be a plane of consistency.  To expect nothing and desire everything.



june 28th: “peer review”

Today I am posting some feedback that one of my peers has given me thus far.  In my thesis group, we have all proposed ideas and explained what we are doing or plan to do for research this summer.  Our prof has asked each of us to upload these proposals to a wiggio site, and give feedback to each other.  So part of the process is understanding how others view my work and what contributions or suggestions they might have.  This is one of the reason’s I created a blog to begin with, so that my peers could publicly view and also review my work…. to get it out in the open from the beginning.  The following in the first review that I have recieved:

I don’t even know where to begin with the blog that you have created for your thesis. I think it’s great that you have started a blog because it doesn’t narrow your ideas down to one, definitive, idea. Obviously, you will have to decide what to later but, that’s for a future critique and future Kaitlynn to discover. I remember when you first said that you wanted to look into the section of a city. The best blog post so far has been the “Trumbell” visited and revisited.
The idea behind only seeing perspectives as going down a city street, not seeing the row of homes always placed in between each street, leaves the city to be envisioned and imaged in a whole new way and idea to cut a section through a city. The revisited part is great because your already looking at what is within the section already without trying to implant your own ideas. Looking more towards the existing context of a city and seeing what can be extracted from that. I would actually love to see what you could envision in between the photographs. It might not even be necessary to even put something in between, but maybe develop what already exists and how to manipulate the new section you’ve created and build up on it.

The other interesting points from your blog are the dissection of layers within a city, specifically “multiplicities.” It may sound corny, but to some extent the movie “TRON” is really eye opening in terms of seeing, viewing digital information as layers of information that can go on infinitely since we don’t know what is layer in there. You stated that in multiplicities are layers of information in our everyday lives that can be ruptured, has the same connection the butterfly effect. The theory is more derived from the chaos theory that the flapping of a butterfly’s wings can lead to the creation or absence of a hurricane. As you described your day, one accident on your way to work affected the rest of your day and not over exaggerating, but some form of chaos was stirred up because one even that you did not plan on happening. The idea of chaos in a city is very fitting because to some people they feel uncomfortable with the hustle and bustle of the big city, but using Detroit as the focus, the chaos is only formed around certain events that happen every so often with sport events or city events. Events might add another way to explore the idea behind speed and time. Trying to use your 40 hour work day as a series of events and what can and can’t take place because of your limited restriction throughout the day compared to a day off from work and rethinking of events could take place and where you could end up.

Speed was also interesting to read because of how my work day feels compared to yours. There’s an article that might be of interest to you by Iain Borden, “The Pleasures of Driving: Experiencing Cities from the Automobile.” I find it fitting since you drive to work in the city everyday so your experience can change every time you enter and exit the city. Also the speed at which you experience it at, much like the entrance of Detroit to most people is I-75 compared to others is might be a slower speed along 8 mile and taking Woodward with more frequent stops than the expressway. Speed and photography might be something else you experiment with in the city. The shutter speed of a camera can make cars turn into another layer of lights that run through the streets. Another multiplicity to look into as a layer of information. I think your thesis is going in a great direction, especially since you are exploring different avenues than just sticking to one idea. I hope this helps in some way and I can’t wait to read more about what you come up with throughout the summer.”

june 27th: “event”

Event could be defined in many ways, and today I am going to be talking about  an “event,” particularly the downtown Detroit fireworks display which took place tonight on the river.  Blake, Josh and I left the apartment at about 9pm, and the riverwalk was crazytown.  Never had I seen so many people in the city before.  It got me thinking about the event.  One thing that is currently in flux within the city is it’s population.. The riverwalk, for example, was designed as a pedestrian path for thousands, perhaps millions of people to use.  The thing is, Detroit’s population is shrinking, and even places like the riverwalk, which have started to attract more pedestrians in the city, still never gets used quite like it does for an event like the fireworks.  It was like being in a different city….

This event made me really see that it is people that most drastically impact places.  When there are people, there is life.  The contrast between decay and growth in the city seems to be enhanced by events and people.  The undeveloped open space of the river front reates a condition for events rather than permanence.  What are the lasting factors of the event, when the people and activities leave?  Is it just the trash, and debris, or is there a different character that is developed for each event which lingers in the place for a while?  I think of the almost back to back weekends of the Ho-down and the Detroit Electronic Music Festival.  The place is defined my the changing event, not the permanance of any structure or architecture built there.  the place is defined by the character and act of the people.  I am not sure it is enough to say that the event causes change, but that the reaction to the event by participants creates the change.  It might be something to consider when looking at more public sites around the city, or places which are only really used once or twice a year.  Some places have been defined by one event.  Could I design a place for one event, for one time a year, or one time in history?



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