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Physical Holes in Actual Space How can the image of landscape be recorded and archived through holes?

M.Arch Architectural Design 2009-2010 Student: Isik Hong Tutor: Shaun Murray Email: blog: Words account: 4982


Contents 1. Definition 2. Premise 3. Introduction 4. Technique 4.1. Technique 1 - Camera Obscura 4.1.1. Camera Obscura Experiment 4.1.2. Simultaneous Worlds 4.1.3. Tactics for Calibration (Experiment) 4.2. Technique 2. - The Relationship of Two Pinholes 4.3. Technique 3. - Painting by Turner and Vermeer’s Room 4.3.1. Vermeer’s Room 4.3.2. Painting By Turner 4.4. Technique 4. - Observing Through Holes 4.4.1. Peephole 4.4.2. Protected View through the Hedge 4.4.3. Frame 4.4.4. Drawing 4.5. Technique 5. - Vision Machine 4.5.1. Gestalt Law 4.5.2. Drawing 5. Narrative 6. Conclusion



1. Definition

This project uses the meaning of ‘Physical hole’ as the pinhole of a camera obscura as aperture. 1. Physical, adjective (REAL) relating to things you can see or touch, or relating to the laws of nature 2. Hole, noun (SPACE) an empty space in an object, usually with an opening to the object's surface, or an opening which goes completely through an object

The platform in this project is a hovering vision machine in the sky. 1. Platform, noun (STRUCTURE) a flat raised area or structure the raised part of the floor in a large room, from which you make a speech or give a musical performance 2. Platform, noun (COMPUTING) the type of computer system you are using, in connection with the type of software (= computer programs) you can use on it

Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary


2. Premise

In order to understand the latent needs in the architectural system, a narrative about a situation in the future is employed. In the future, due to global warming, much of the land could be covered with water. It is widely accepted that global warming will increase the sea level over the coming century and beyond. The current sea level rise has increased at the rate of 1.8 mm per year for the past century. It could trigger a tragedy for coastal land in the next centuries: for example, many major cities such as London and New Orleans already need storm-surge defences, and would need more if the sea level rose, plus large tracks of coastal land would disappear. (Meehl G. A., 2005, p. 1769) Through ‘The Drowned World’, London, which is covered under water, can be imagined in detail.

“The bulk of the city had long since vanished, and only the steel-supported buildings of the central commercial and financial areas had survived the encroaching flood waters. The brick houses and single-storey factories of the suburbs had disappeared completely below the drifting tides of silt. Where these broke surface giant forests reared up into the burning dull-green sky, smothering the former wheatfields of temperate Europe and North America.” (Ballard , 1962)


This painting illustrates ‘The drowned world’ imagined by J. G. Ballard. Single storey buildings are ‘drowned’ under water. Only the top of tall buildings remain out of water. The world submerged under water is illustrated like a tropical rain forest. Although the reason why the world was drowned in this illustration is different, the result for our environment could be similar: the reason why the world is drowned in ‘The Drowned World’ is the explosion of a planet, while the reason in reality might be global warming.

Fig.01 Simon O’Carrigan. Lagoon #2. 2008..


3. Introduction

What? The main idea of this project is how the image of landscape can be recorded and archived through pinholes. I am designing a hovering platform to record and archive the image of a landscape. It is not simply a recording of certain objects in detail but archiving objects and the context of landscape through time. Moreover, it can be a vision machine in London to support a system of future landscape as a propositional event space.

Why? The main purpose of the platform is to help landscape reconstruction due to preserving the flow of sight through time in order to prepare for natural disasters such as earthquakes and floods. That is to say, the platform will archive the everyday landscape before London is covered under water. When natural disaster occurs, the image in the platform could support the reconstruction of the landscape. Moreover, the preserved time-based image might be used in a museum as a London landscape history.

How? In order to design the platform, this project has been examined through 5 different techniques. Each technique explores how the platform can archive and record the image visually with physical holes, and how the information will be interpreted in the future.


4. Technique

4.1. Camera Obscura The camera obscura works by light passing through a pinhole, crossing and re-emerging on the other side. The divergent image created is reversed when intercepted by an object or screen and can be viewed when light levels are sufficiently low. For this image to become adequately visible, it is necessary that the screen be placed in a chamber in which the light levels are considerably lower than those around the object. (Kemp, M 1990, p. 189)

“What begins in the 1820s and 1830s is a repositioning of the observer, outside of the fixed relations of interior/exterior presupposed by the camera obscura and into an undemarcated terrain on which the distinction between internal sensation and external signs is irrevocably blurred. If there is ever a “liberation” of vision in the nineteenth century, this is when it first happens. In the absence of the juridical model of the camera obscura, there is a freeing up of vision, a falling away of the rigid structures that had shaped it and constituted its objects.” (Crary, J 1990, p. 24)

Fig. 02 Camera Obscura Experiment


4. Technique

4.1. Camera Obscura 4.1.1. Camera Obscura Experiment Sunrise between Pillows This experiment (Fig. 03) attempts to understand how camera obscura works through a pinhole. Additionally, it examines the narrative of pinhole. It is a fundamental step for understanding how landscape can be recorded through pinholes in the platform.

Fig. 03 Camera Obscura Experiment - Sunrise between pillows


4. Technique

This dreamlike scene was taken by a tiny pinhole. (Fig. 03) The setting for the experiment is a bedroom. Through the black sheet on the windows, the interior is blocked completely off from the exterior. When the pinhole is made, the bedroom turns into the box of camera obscura and creates entirely new inverted worlds in a private space.

Through the pinhole, the image of the building and clouds over the window is projected into the interior. As a result, the interior in the bedroom coexists with the exterior. In short, the pinhole makes new an image and the interior experiences the exterior. Moreover, the image of the exterior mutates the interior. The colour of the exterior is absorbed into the wall, pillows and all the other objects. This place which is made by pinhole might occupy an intermediate position not only between private space and public space but also between static space and dynamic space. Undoubtedly, although this is made by the principle of the camera, the pinhole illustrates a moving landscape precisely such as the clouds and the sun. Furthermore, the speed of clouds can be read through the time. The colour from the exterior negotiates with the colour of objects in the interior. What is more, the objects in the interior adopt anamorphic images from the exterior images.

The image from the pinhole might be surreal. It is displayed on the wall upside-down. In addition, it is provocative and visionary. This abstract night image coexists with vivid daylight image at the same time. The image of bedroom frees itself from the ideological and perceptional image.


4. Technique

4.1. Camera Obscura 4.1.2. Simultaneous worlds

A series of coexisted images reminds me of the painting, ‘The Arnolfini Marriage’. It is an example of simultaneousness.

“Two different worlds existing in one and the same place at the same time create a sense of being under a spell. For this is an impossibility; where one body is, there the other cannot be. We have to think up a new word for this impossibility —"equilocal" — and this we can define as "occupying the same place simultaneously." (Brigham 1985, p. 73) It could give us an illusionary sensation and a wholly new sense of experience. Brigham talks about how two co-existent worlds give the sensation of being ‘under a spell’. Yet it is impossible for two bodies to occupy the same space at the same time. It could give us an illusionary sensation and a wholly new experience.

Fig. 04 Jan van Eyck, The Arnolfini Marriage (detail) (The National Gallery, London)


4. Technique

4.1.3. Tactics for Calibration (Experiment)

Angle (Anamorphic)

The ways to distort the realistic and visionary image was examined. Also, in order to have tactics and understand the characters of the image from the pinhole, several experiments were attempted.

This image (Fig. 05) is made by pinhole in camera obscura. The image of the building is usual, while the image of the tree is completely distorted. The reason being that the image of the building is located in front of the pinhole. However, the position of the tree has an acute angle between the projected wall and the pinhole. It seems possible that a pinhole in camera obscura is able to receive a wide angle like a pantoscope.

Fig. 05 Camera Obscura Experiment – Distortion in Camera Obscura


4. Technique

4.1. Camera Obscura Angle (Anamorphic)

Using a camera obscura, this experiment attempts to show how an image can be distorted by a sheet of paper as a curved medium. The paper is shaken back and forth to cause diverse angles from the pinhole. Through the various angles, the image on the paper is differentiated from the background image on the wall while becoming an anamorphic image. The anamorphic image can be demonstrated in the painting, ‘The Ambassador’ (Fig. 06)

Fig. 06 Camera Obscura Experiment – Distortion in Camera Obscura


4. Technique

Angle (Anamorphic)

The classical example of anamorphosis is Hans Holbein’s The Ambassadors of 1533. (Fig. 07) “The smeared diagonally object is an anamorphic skull which only assumes full coherence when viewed from a particular position to the right of picture at the level of the ambassador’s heads, at about one picture’s width from the edge of the painting, and at a short distance from the plane of the axes along which the viewer would have approached the picture in its original setting was through a door abutting on the end of the wall on which the picture was hung.” (Kemp 1990, p. 207) One can only view the diagonal object from a particular position on the right of the painting.

Fig. 07 Hans Holbeins, The ambassadors, 1533, London, National Gallery


4. Technique

4.1. Camera Obscura Distance

According to the distance from pinhole to the medium, the image can be differentiated. However, when the viewpoint is identified with the position of the pinhole, an observer can view a usual image. This diagram explains why the distorted image is given. (Fig. 08)

Fig. 08 Camera Obscura Experiment – Distortion in Camera Obscura

Through V, the original image is



projected to AG. (Fig. 00) If there is no medium, AG can be perceived to E. However, due to the 3 medium, image is projected to HI, BC, JK, DF and LM.



However, E can observe HI, CD and LM. K

(Fig. 09) L







Fig. 09 – The Calibration of Distortion in Camera Obscura


E : Observer V : Pinhole

4. Technique


Through the speed of a medium, the image is shown differently. On the back of a curtain in the theatre, the curtain is kicked quickly and then the recorded scene is made much more quickly and slowly. The flicker of an image breaks up the image of the curtain in one's perception. (Fig. 10) When the speed of flicker increases, the eye of a human being cannot catch that. As a result, the image looks like overlapped pictures which have transparency.

Fig. 10 Camera Obscura Experiment – Distortion in Camera Obscura


4. Technique

4.1. Camera Obscura This animation moves from the same point as projection to others. This experiment attempts to calibrate the strength of distortion in observing. Moreover, this examines where maximum limitation which can be perceived in the strength of distortion is. That is to say, the key point is from what and to what image these can be perceived to circle. Obviously, the perception of human beings tends to simplify the shape of objects. However, the focus of this experiment is the limitation of the image which can be perceived. Each individual has a different limitation. That is to way, the result of the experiment about perceived limitation might be different in accordance with what the start point is; when the start point is a perfect circle, an observer can perceive the image as a circle for a much longer time due to the fact that the image would remain on the perception of observer. These two experiments are concerned with Gestalt law. This experiment attempts how to perceive differently and quickly; when the image which is projected from the platform is similar to experienced perception or when the image is unfamiliar.

Fig. 11 Experiment for Perception Calibrator


4. Technique


4. Technique

4.2. The relationship of two pinholes

Fig. 12 the experiment with double pinhole: Both Pinhole Open


4. Technique

The purpose of this experiment is to explore how the images are correlated with each other through two apertures. It is groundwork for how the image will be archived in the platform. Moreover, this experiment attempts to be spatialised by two pinholes and thinks about co-ordination in space.

Two pinholes are made on each window perpendicularly. The virtual intersection point of those directions is on the dummy. Through each aperture, an exterior image is projected into the interior.

Firstly, opening one pinhole triggers the projection of an image from one-side: the image of the building from the east. The dummy is smeared with the projected image from the exterior. (Fig. 14) Fig. 13 the experiment with double pinhole: South Pinhole Open

Secondly, when another aperture is open alone, the southern landscape is projected onto the dummy and the wall. (Fig. 13)

Lastly, when both apertures are open, two different images are overlapped. In detail, part of the image is frosty and the other part of the image remains. In the other part of the image, one projected image overwhelms the other one. It reminds me of ‘Collage City’ by Colin Rowe. (Fig. 12)

Fig. 14 the experiment with double pinhole: East Pinhole Open


4. Technique

4.3. Painting by Turner and Vermeer’s room In this chapter, using the painting by Turner and the Vermeer room, the flow of how image could be archived and interpreted will be examined.

It is believed that Dutch painter Johannes Vermeer used the camera obscura to draw his paintings thanks to the development of 17th century optical science. Philip Steadman reconstructed ‘Vermeer’s room’ completely. He analyzed the paintings from a thorough perspective owing to the fact that a dozen paintings do indeed show one and the same room. Moreover, it was possible to work out and compare the widths and heights of the rooms, and the size and shapes of their various architectural features. (Steadman 2001, p. 59) Although 2 dimensional images are given, 3 dimensional space can be reconstructed.


4. Technique

4.3.1. Vermeer’s room

”These drawings show plans, side views and bird’s-eye views (axonometrics) of the spaces. Ten of these seem to depict the very same room - although the tile patterns vary. Each picture’s viewpoint is labelled V. Only those parts of the tiled floors that are visible in the paintings are shown in the plans. In some instances the positions of objects or parts of objects which are not wholly visible but can be located with confidence, as for example the legs of chairs or the feet of tables, are shown in dotted lines. The scale of the reconstructions can be gauged by the floor tiles: the small tiles in 'The Glass of Wine' and 'The Girl with the Wineglass' are 14.6cm square. The larger tiles in all the other paintings are 29.3cm square.” (Steadman 2001, p.73)

If the visionary and abstract image which is archived in the platform could have a fundamental point, it could be analyzed. Besides it would be more potential data.

Fig. 15 Vermeer’s Room (Steadman 2001, p. 102)


4. Technique

4.3. Painting by Turner and Vermeer’s room 4.3.2. Painting by Turner

The late work of Turner is the best perceptual model of the camera obscura. His paintings from the late 1830s to 1840s signal the irrevocable loss of a fixed source of light, the dissolution of a cone of light rays, and the collapse of the distance separating an observer from the site of optical experience.

”Instead of the immediate and unitary apprehension of an image, our experience of a Turner painting is lodged amidst an inescapable temporality. Hence Lawrence Gowing’s account of Turner’s concern with “the indefinite transmission and dispersal of light by and infinite series of reflection from an endless variety of surfaces and materials, each contributing its own colour that mingles with every other, penetrating ultimately to every recess, reflected everywhere.” (Crary 1990, p. 138)

Fig. 16 J. M. W. Turner. The Angel in the Sun


4. Technique

He revealed the substantiality of the void between objects and he challenged the integrity and identity of forms which now coincides with a new physics: the science of fields and thermodynamics. The new criterion of the observer that was triggered by Turner is perhaps illustrated by his celebrated relationship to the sun. Besides, “new notions of heat, time, death, and entropy, so the sun presupposed by the camera obscura (that is, a sun that could only be indirectly re-presented to a human eye) was transformed by the position of the sun are cast off.” (Crary 1990, p. 135)

Turner’s way of seeing might be visionary with the retinal processes of vision. This explains his remoteness from the paradigm of the camera obscura. That is to say, it is another way of observing the landscape through a camera obscura. Briefly, The ways of interpreting paintings are usually divided into two methods; ‘Studium’ and ‘Punctum’. One of the duties in the platform could be to help individuals to interpret the image as ‘Punctum’

Consequently, the image from the platform might be not an image from perceptual experience which is accumulated in memory but a visionary image or physiological perception from the observer. That is to say, the image seems like a fusion of eye and perception. Fig. 16 personal perception about light


4. Technique

4.4. Observing Through Holes 4.4.1. Observing through holes

A series of experiments which attempts to show how the landscape can be seen by the observer through holes. These voyeuristic pictures were taken with a tiny peephole.

Fig. 17 Observing through peephole


4. Technique

4.4.2. Protected view through the Hedge

This is a protected view from King Henry VIII's Mound in Richmond Park to St Paul cathedral with a telescope. The protected view is “a planning restriction that requires a particular feature of the landscape or built heritage to be visible from a set vantage point.” (The London Views Management Framework 2009)

Although, there is a long distance over 16 km, this view of the cathedral through a special gap in holly hedging is provided. This holly framing might be one of the ways to emphasis landscape. It is concerned with ‘deframing’ and ‘close-up’ techniques of framing in photography.

Fig. 18 Vista through telescope in King Henry VIII's Mound in Richmond Park


4. Technique

4.4. Observing Through Holes 4.4.3. Frame

“This framing is one potential way of using a camera. It does highlight the role of the frame in making a picture. The frame, whether used conventionally or not, is a rhetorical device that makes connections where none necessarily exist.” (Edwards 2006, p. 105) The frame plays a crucial role in the photograph, perhaps even more than it does in the paintings shown previously. It can be distinguished between the ‘object-frame’ and the ‘limit-frame’.


4. Technique


4. Technique

4.4. Observing Through Holes 4.4.4. Drawing

Fig. 19 Observing from King Henry VIII's Mound to St. Paul’s Cathedral


4. Technique

The purpose of this drawing is to understand the meaning of protected view. The protected view could be one of the ways to emphasize landscape. The pinhole mechanism cannot enlarge images so that the images are hard to emphasize. However, if landscape as a frame could be adopted, there is a way to emphasize landscape.

On the King Henry VIII's Mound, an anamorphic image is projected to St. Paul’s Cathedral. Next step, the projected image is trapped by landscape as the frame. The landscape can move and change slightly. This landscape as a pin inside key mechanism operates and moves itself so that the operated image is projected to St Paul’s Cathedral.


4. Technique

4.5. Vision Machine Kiesler wanted to advance human knowledge and experience. He worked within the design of space and discussed the ‘vision machine. Kesler explains about the ‘vision machine,’ stating that “I will only add that the machine itself, apart from its theatre, gallery, museum setting, is an analog computer of the type.” (Woods 2009) In brief, the “vision machine demonstrates, first, the flow of sight. It also portrays the origin and flow of visionary images. All parts of this machine are connected mechanically, except the object, which remains a separate unit.” (Woods 2009)

In detail, the system of the vision machine is made up of the object, the eye, the dividing partition between outside and the inside, a cycle system of man’s physiology, and a base. It can be triggered by touching an electronic button.

On the other hand, output of the vision machine need the interpretation of users. Kiesler asks us to ‘see seeing,’ but as with seeing itself, the understanding of this phenomenon’s consequences is highly personal. (Woods 2009) It is one of the most crucial parts in this project.


4. Technique

4.5.1. Gestalt law

Similarly, Gestalt law is convincing evidence about how man organizes and groups visual elements so that they are perceived as wholes.

Gestalt theory consists of proximity, similarity, continuity and closure. These factors can explain why man can perceive, simplify and identify images through the previous visual experience. The perception is a result of interactions between the physical stimulus pattern and the unique psychological makeup of a person. (Zakia 2007, p. 65) No two people are completely alike, not even identical twins. Through our perception a simplified image can be accepted.


4. Technique

4.5. Vision Machine 4.5.2. Drawing

Fig. 20 Context Map


4. Technique

Through the drawing, the system of the platform is examined. The platform as a vision machine hovers in the sky from St Paul's cathedral to 3 different sites: King Henry VIII's Mound in Richmond Park, Parliament Hill in Hampstead Heath and Greenwich Park. This platform will not record the image in our experienced perception but instead will archive the flow of the image which is seen. The archiving image is the data which is able to construct landscape system in reality. It can be a cornerstone from 2 dimensional paintings to a 3 dimensional real world like the work of Philip Steadman. Even pinhole is not a 3 dimensional scanner such as LIDAR system but a basic system , which with the fundamental principle of light, can work. Now, NASA is planning to build a pinhole camera in space to spot planets orbiting distant stars. It could an incredible example of the potential of pinhole.


5. Narrative “All the way down the creek, perched in the windows of the office blocks and department stores, the iguanas watched them go past, their hard frozen heads jerking stiffly… Without the reptiles, the lagoons and the creeks of office blocks half-submerged in the immense heat would have had a strange dream-like beauty, but the iguanas and basilisks brought the fantasy down to earth. As their seats in the one-time board-rooms indicated, the reptiles had taken over the city. Once again they were the dominant form of life.” (Ballard 1962 p. 18)

The narrative of this project comes from ‘The Drowned World’ of JG ballard. In the book, London has been ‘drowned’ by water which is illustrated with ‘dream-like beauty’ or ‘Eden’. However, it is different from reality. Human beings can accept the situation similarly to the way the environment does in the water covered city after the occurrence of a natural disaster.

”Huge pools of water still lay about everywhere, leaking from the ground floors of the buildings, but they were little more than two or three feet deep. There were clear stretches of pavement over a hundred yards long, and many of the further streets were completely drained. Dying fish and marine plants expired in the centre of the roadways, and huge banks of black sludge were silted up into the gutters and over the sidewalks, but fortunately the escaping waters had cut long pathways through them. J.G. Ballard.” (Ballard 1962)


It is possible that this environment is not a disastrous landscape. Human beings can adapt to the situation. One day, the archived image which includes the flow of London's time will be released from the platform. They will be in the confusion of current values due to realising the reality. There are two possibilities; the restoration to the past or the adherence to the present. Obviously, there is a common perception which is represented in the period. The common perception of the present can be differentiated with it from the past, due to the fact that common perception can be dissimilar according to each period. For instance, people usually see the object through their perception, which does not ‘see seeing’ but perceives something from ‘previous experience’. Schopenhauer commented that viewing beautiful things was not only a question of all people seeing the same but was also dependent on the kind and quality of the brain which is perceiving them. (Crary 1990, p. 84)

Moreover, the interpretation of the recorded image is distinct to each individual. The image is visionary and abstract like the output which is made by the ‘Vision machine’ of Kiesler. The interpreter might try not to make the same as the landscape of the past but instead try to make the ideal city fit to the current situation. If they deny the current situation and return to the past, then they try to drain the water as in the plot of ‘The Drowned World,’ and then they will reconstruct their city according to the revealed reality. It is the middle between the past and present owing to the fact that they reside within different ideology and environment.


5. Narrative The system of the platform

The platform consists of the recording part and observing part. In the recording part, there will be a rolling object to which a light sensitive chemical is applied like a rolling curtain, and a supporting device.

In the recording system, due to the weather, many parts in the archived image might be absent so that it will be dependent on the interpretation of the perceiver. The dynamic change of weather and the strength of daylight have an influence on various images: clear, blur and smear. Even the speed and direction of wind can be examined.

This platform could hover in the sky as the ‘strandbeest’ of Theo Jansen. ‘Strandbeest’ is a active machine which uses wind power system.

Fig. 21 Context Map


6. Conclusion In conclusion, this project has explored how the platform could archive the image visually with a pinhole, and how the information will be interpreted in the future in order to design the platform with experiments and drawings. The image from the platform might not be the image from perception, which is accumulated in memory, but the visionary image from the observer. This platform archives everyday landscape through the pinhole.

The purpose of this project is to design a hovering platform as a vision machine to record and archive the image of landscape, for the reason that it could help landscape reconstruction if or when London is submerged under water.

For the next stage, the system of the platform will be constructed through time-based drawings. In detail, the system inside the platform will be constructed visually. Additionally, the shape of platform and more specific narrative will be attempted.

Fig. 21 Tactic Drawing


References Ballard, J 1962, The Drowned World, Harper Perennial, London. Barthes, R 1980, Camera Lucida, Jonathan Cape Ltd, London. Brigham, J 1985, The magic mirror of M.C. Escher, Tarquin Publications, Stradbroke. Crary, J 1990, Techniques of the Observer, The MIT Press, Cambridge. Edwards, S 2006, photography, Oxford University press Inc., New York Kemp, M 1990, The science of art, Yale university press, New Haven. Woods, L 2009, Kiesler’s Double Vision, Retrieved June 3, 2010, from Meehl, GA, Warren, M, Washington, William, D, Collins, Julie ,M, Arblaster, Aixue, H, Lawrence, E, Buja, Warren, G, Strand & Haiyan, T 2005, ‘How Much More Global Warming and Sea Level Rise?’, Science, vol. 307, no. 5716, pp. 1769 – 1772, March 18, 2005 Steadman, P 2001, Vermeer’s Camera, Oxford University press Inc, Oxford. The London Views Management Framework 2009, Retrieved June 3, 2010, from Zakia, R 2007, Perception and imaging, Elsevier, Oxford.




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