A process journal by Simran Gupte.
Retrace. Retrace. Retrace.
Contents. 01 What is a HOST to me? Initial thoughts and introduction to project brief.
03 Site analysis. Location, form and the in-between.
07 Seeking keywords. Personifying the site and connecting dots.
11 HOST. Identity and personality.
13 Component 01 - Jane Doe. Narrative, storyline, timeline.
17 Component 02 - weather radar. Identity, materiality, sectional drawings.
22 Research intent. Why and how.
23 Site model. Materiality and practicality.
25 Case studies. Analysing character, choreographies and sensory attachments.
31 Function 01. Intangibility of HOST.
33 Dissecting case studies. Critical analysis leading to a finalised function.
39 Function 02. Jane Doe’s home.
41 Production phase 01. Spaces, objects, visual cues.
47 Production phase 02. Thoughts and making of video.
What are you about to retrace? Stage 02 of MDes Interior Design introduces an immensely interesting brief that allows itself to be openly interpreted. It situates us across uninhabitable structures, that, despite of their perceived invisibility, serve humankind in the best of ways. One of these structures is a weather radar that sits atop The Campsies in Glasgow. Expected to embellish our contextual analysis capabilities, this stage nudges us to explore, experiment and entail conceptual development. It begins with one question, one site and a million meanings.
What is a host to me? The most accessible meaning of the word host is a person who welcomes and looks after another person(s.) Although it seemed convincing, it wasn’t enough to define all that a host could be without having the need to be animate. Host, to me, is a dynamic situation that awaits external components to define it. It could be derived consciously or subconsciously but stands meaningless in singularity; while the components may be tangible/intangible for instance, sounds, narratives, textures, movements etc. Is it like a few blocks of LEGO, which would portray a deeper meaning in co-existence than as an individual entity.
Fig. 01. Definition of host collage 01
Fig. 02. Definition of host collage 02
Site Analysis. The site is a weather radar: the one that sits grounded waiting to make sense of its surrounding
Seated at the tallest peak of The Campsies, the Glasgow weather radar rests at 543m above sea level. The location is accessible through a hike, while the interior is inaccessible to general public. This structure, majorly ground based or airborne, consists of a transmitter, an antenna, a receiver, indicator, displayer, camera and computer. It sends and receives radiowaves to determine heights and calibrate intensities. Mainly used to gauge the weather, the radar utilizes natural conditions to also help with agriculture, hydrology, aviation, defense, architecture etc.
Form. The weather radar houses somewhat “primary” forms in terms of a sphere and cuboid. It seems like a rigid structure seated in an authoritative position, obeying the human urge to monitor the world that doesn’t belong to them.
Further, these forms can be deconstructed into various other geometric shapes. Organic forms such as wooden logs, soil, gravel, vegetation also define the visual forms existent at the site.
Fig. 06. Form of the site
Fig. 09. Deconstructing organic elements
Fig. 07. Form of the site
Fig. 10. Deconstructing geometric elements
Fig. 03. Location of weather radar
Fig. 04. Location of weather radar
Fig. 08. Annotating forms of the site
Fig. 05. Location of weather radar
Materiality. 01 Radome - Fibreglass (for example, Glass D, Glass E, Glass S, Quartz etc.) - Polytetrafluoreothylene (PTFE) coated fabric - Resin matrix (for example, epoxy, cyanite, polymide etc.)
Interior-exterior. Performance requirement for material includes Dielectric performance, Mechanical performance (tensile & compression modulus & strength), Environmental resistance (durability in all types of weathers) While, the primary requirement is to not accentuate/disrupt radar signal.
A significant part of my stage 01 research identified the relationship between interior-exterior and the in-between through case studies like Staircase III by Do Ho Suh1. I noticed a similar relationship between the radar and its surrounding. The weather radar has intriguing points of contact with its exterior. Although the exterior may be un-viewable through the radome, these visuals are interpreted in terms of “Scale” for reflectivity and velocity. It reflects exteriority through colours.
02 Base Metal exterior (possibly wrought iron/corrugated iron sheets/aluminium) 03 Fence Metal with mesh (possibly wrought iron//aluminium/perforated steel)
The site sends and receives “signals” (intangible objects) to detect its prospective tangible surrounding. The site and its exterior is guarded, private, closed and unwelcoming. Nonetheless, the entirety of the sites function depends on the tangible exterior elements. Without the exterior, the site stands purposeless.
04 Gravel Mafic lava and tuff, lower carboniferous Soil
Fig. 11. Scale of reflectivity and velocity
Fig. 13. Deconstructing geometric elements
Fig. 12. Annotating forms of the site
Refer to Appendix 01 for more on Staircase III by Do Ho Suh.
Seeking keywords. Although the virtual site analysis provided significant information in terms of function, form and materiality, it also required further dissection. This dissection could be used to amplify the relationship between the site and the host. To develop a distinct relationship, it was necessary to lay out necessary keywords, which I thought would work the best in the form of a mind-map. In my opinion, the weather radar holds a solitary personality and a strong raison d’etre. I find it authoritative since it stands taller than all and yet, adjusting enough to adapt to the changing exterior. It is lonely but thrives through co-existence as it assimilates information through a network. And most intriguingly, it houses primary forms despite of its complex in functioning. I often wonder if it speaks a language of its own; one that is translated by humans as diagrams showcasing scale of reflectivity and velocity.
The mind-map helped uncover my unexplained urge to personify the traits of the radar. I realised that this very personification would help to draw connections between the site, host, function, occupant. However, it could be challenging to translate these keywords into practical elements.
Refer to Appendix 02 for more on The Tall Windows (1913) by Hammershoi.
Personifying keywords helped attain an established meaning of the site. It was now time to define the host. On initially thinking about who/what I would want the host to be, I was convinced by the idea of a young female human on being mesmerized by Hammershoi’s2 paintings. Additionally, Pamela Carter’s workshop helped develop skills to conceptualise a character.
The host here is a situation; one that stands aloof without its components
Refer to Appendix 03 for more on the meaning of emergence as defined in Object Oriented Ontology.
With a clouded mind full of complex thoughts, I wondered if the host could be a woman who has experienced rationality and humanized chaos at the hands of a city life, and hence, has decided to occupy the radar. This could help create scenarios with dehumanised “apparatus of movement.” (Kunst, n.d.) In contrariety, she could simply hold experiences that would help her adapt to the discontinuity of the interior. Alternatively, the woman could hold past experiences, conventionality and humanized form of movement. She could be trapped in a dynamic interior that requires her to adapt to discontinuity. The project could be a story about a character navigating the same space in multiple scenarios. After thinking critically, to reduce the complexity and to help maintain the dynamism of my project, I pinned the host of my site to be a situation; one that awaits its components to give it meaning. The idea was derived from the definition of “emergence” as proposed by Graham Harman in his book Object Oriented Ontology3. The situation here is viewed as an emergent entity formed by many components, although possessing qualities not found individually in its components.
Tangible - Open - Unfamiliar.
Discontinuous - Synchronous - Alive.
Tangible - The situation/host is tangible through the objects that form it. “...This new object placed within the sensible world [becomes] an active object.” (De Castro, n.d.) making the situation alive.
Discontinuous - Much like the weather, the situation is dynamic. It changes as each day dawns and brings with it a new challenge.
Open - The situation/host awaits its components to give it a meaning. Similar to a playframe, it is open to interpretation and function. Unfamiliar - The situation/host leads to visual and functional unfamiliarity. It is responsible for an impact - speculative, experience based, confusing and most importantly, movement.
Fig. 14. Definition of Host collage
Synchronous - Much like beings, it is adaptive. It stands tall in the sun, it dwindles in the cold. It speaks a language, it comprehends, it reacts. Alive - Much like the nature, it grows and falls. It is alive to the extent that one can see it change, one can fear it, understand it, but never escape it.
Emergent entity and its characterised components
Week 03 of group tutorials aimed to provide feedback on the established idea of host. I presented my view point of my site, the radar, being hosted by a situation. The feedback detailed that the host held the right balance between simplicity of narrative and complexity of design; however, it also highlighted the need to characterise components.
Although I had an initial idea of what I would want to achieve through my research questions, summing it down seemed difficult. I wished to understand the impact of discontinuity, dynamism and freedom of thought in interpreting actions and movements in an interior space. Since my lens showcased personified traits of inanimate objects, I thought of introducing a human as a component of the situation. A female human? I thought, how about the one that has experienced visual dialogue at Charing Cross through my stage 01 project. How can I possibly translate her routine actions to showcase dynamism?
01 - Jane Doe. As the only animate component of the situation (host), Jane Doe’s character had to form the basis of developing research questions. Pamela Carter’s workshop in week 02 helped generate necessary tools to develop a fictional character. She mentioned that to be able to anticipate the why’s of experiences, we must understand the how’s; and the easiest way to do that was to draw a timeline.
The timeline of Jane Doe’s life focuses on receding memory, while the storyboard aims to showcase these experiences visually.
Fig. 15. Storyboard of Jane Doe’s life related to memory
She came from a city that guided each one straight to where they wanted to be. With signages and street lights, carriages and flights, it was designed to recede her memory. She wondered often, although only for a moment, was hers the only way. She wondered until the day she found herself walking, unbound, truly moving, far away. Her memory almost diminished, she finally reached a new place. The hills, barren of the signs she read, barren of the lights that bred her, except one. The radar. It invited her and in she went. She wondered until the time she found herself repeating, bound, truly moving. How do I leave, I wish to go back home, she thought. Wondering for one moment and knowing the other, walking, repeating, bound, this is all I’ve got.
Workshop with Jimmy Stephen-Cran. Jimmy Stephen-Cran’s doll making workshop helped define the personality of Jane Doe. Prior to the workshop, I only had a vague idea of what it would be: routine and conventional. However, I also realised that the model must reflect her emotions resulted by the situation (host).
A few weeks later, I wondered if Jane Doe’s model could be able to narrate her timeline instead of solely portraying her personality. I experimented with photographing different phases of Jane Doe’s life in the form of paused movements and diminished memory, traversing from cold to warmth.
The female human doll that I created focused on the anatomical features of the hip bones. Since many humans person themselves as routine and conventional, this feature is the sole factor that defined her gender. The doll was further wrapped in beige clothing to emphasize the straight fall and mysterious folds.
At this point, I realised the significance of experimental documentation of work. Although the output (model) was tweaked only a little, using changed aperture settings to narrate a story flipped the result in my favour.
Nonetheless, at that point, it felt incomplete. It failed to showcase the host and its narrative. The process tying and untying the dolls legs, indicating liberty, proposed interesting movements. Although, I did not feel quite satisfied with the detailing and hoped to further alter it.
Fig. 18. Storyboard 02 - Struggling
Fig. 19. Storyboard 03 - Repeating
Fig. 20. Storyboard 04 - Hanging in there
Fig. 21. Storyboard 05 - Improving
Fig. 22. Storyboard 06 - Home
Fig. 16. Doll model of Jane Doe version 01
Fig. 17. Storyboard 01 - Completely bound
02 - Weather Radar. The second component and a tangible container of the situation, the weather radar, needed to reflect meaning, values and culture of itself, Jane Doe and the situation. According to Nick Kaye, ‘site-specificity arises precisely in uncertainties over the borders and limits of work and site’ (Kaye, 2000, p.215) The work here refers to Jane Doe’s reaction to the situation, while site refers to the radar.
Maintaining this perspective, I began developing a mindmap consisting of keywords defining characteristics of each component. This helped me translate words into plausible materials. However, the map lacked a sense of definitiveness since it only described traits verbally.
The weather radar situates itself as an adaptive personality that functions daily to decipher the exterior in order to project results internally. It stands authoritative as a structure at the highest point in the vicinity. It is dynamic in the sense of understanding and adopting changes. It holds a reason for being the only human-made structure in the vicinity, it holds a reason for its form, function and characteristics.
Materiality. At this point, I felt the need to simplify the map and deconstruct the weather radar. Since sketching has always been my way of ideation, it permitted me to slow down and reboot.
Fig. 23. Annotating forms of the site
Fig. 24. Iterations, initial ideas w.r.t. materiality
Refer to Appendix 04 for Dewi Van De Klomp’s furniture.
I further chose to test rubber foam on being inspired by Dewi Van De Klomp’s4 malleable rubber foam furniture, Soft Cabinets. The book shelf designed by them took the shape of the object that was placed within it; this ethos was in line with the situation’s identity of being open to interpretations. It seemed like a better choice for being an “active” (de Castro, n.d.) interior object given its malleability. Later, I wondered if wooden logs, either natural or processed, would help translate the wetness/dryness of the exterior onto the interior. Subsequently, the dome could be made of broken glass for projecting the atmosphere inside and pursuing the notion of looking outside and inside. On comparing all iterations at the end of week 04, I chose rotatable wooden logs and broken glass dome to convey the originality of the location and to understand how the materiality would affects choreographies formed in a contrasting interior space.
Fig. 23. Section drawing series 01
Fig. 27. Section drawing series 05
Fig. 25. Section drawing series 02
Fig. 28. Section drawing series 06
Fig. 26. Section drawing series 03
Fig. 29. Section drawing series 07
Fig. 27. Section drawing series 04
Fig. 30. Section drawing series 08
I wondered if the existing site materials could define site specificity, and about how it would affect the situation and its components. However, this experiment failed to effectively visualize the scale, real texture and technically, the bigger picture. Nonetheless, Jake’s section drawing workshop pushed me to experiment rather than merely think.
Experimenting with Photoshop helped me analyse the most meaningful and efficient materials for the radar. To justly portray the meaning of the host through the site, I first chose to experiment with concrete, rubber foam and wood, given their conventionality in modern interiors. Although concrete in rounded fluting resonated dynamism w.r.t. touch in terms of temperature and softness, it failed to connect with the organic exterior.
Research intent. Humans navigate through new spaces differently. They hold memories, experiences, notions that lead them to traversing through both, familiar and unfamiliar situations; alike and unlike. These experiences are developed timely as a result of previous exposures to similar situations or through mere speculation. Subsequently, traversing, at times, reveals itself in the form of a journey, a performance, a choreography.
Fig. 31. Section drawing of weather radar with new materials - showcasing process 01
Through Stage 02 of ID, I wish to direct my previous research to further identify ways of choreographing spaces. However, this time, the research would address the role of past spatial experiences in developing new choreographies. It would consist of 3 elements – the host as a situation and its components: a human female and the weather radar. The project would place the female human in the centre of a discontinuous situation surrounded and trapped by the walls of the radar. The situation would help in ‘..“activating” the space…’ with ‘this new object placed within the sensible world [becoming] an active object.’ (de Castro, n.d.) The materiality of the site, namely, the wooden rotating logs as walls, the glass dome as the ceiling and the soil as floor, would help reflect the characteristics of the site, the host/situation and the human female leading to a convergence. The research would strive to develop, if not solve, questions based on the role of memory in choreographing familiar spaces like a home and the intensity at which this memory has inscribed those spaces within us humans. Gaston Bachelard in The Poetics of Space mentions about how ‘..our adult life is so dispossessed of the essential benefits, its anthropocosmic ties have become so slack..’ (Bachelard, 1994) The research questions the possibility of reviving these very threads that are tied to our past experiences as a result of creating a new dynamic environment.
Fig. 32. Section drawing of weather radar with new materials - showcasing process 02
Site model. To begin considering the practical aspects of my proposal and to understand materiality and its working, I decided to make a model. Making a hands-on model has been the most challenging aspect of a design degree for me. My previous studies taught me to follow a word for word ethics, adhering to set rules. But design is different, it is different for it is never right or wrong. It felt new to me, to not be wrong. Experimenting and pushing my boundaries, the site model created, depicted the discontinuous, synchronous and alive nature of the situation, it also highlighted the simplicity and mundaneness of the occupant. I sense that it signifies a fine threaded relationship between the situation and its components that is still raw and evolving.
Fig. 34. Model making materials
Materials used 1. Base - Spaghetti and clay 2. Radome - Cardboard, clay, metal strings Fig. 33. Model making process
Fig. 35. Site model
Fig. 36. Site model
Case studies. Memory and emotions; deprived and amplified. Movement and objects; performance
Sectional experimentation and development of site function led to a perfect convergence at the end of week 05. Although imaginative and fictional, my design proposal now held a definite meaning. Through my previous and current research, I was keenly looking at human movements and choreographies within a space.
Groundhog Day (film).
50 First Dates (film).
Groundhog Day stars Phil who is shown to live the same day repeatedly. The catch is that he knows that he wakes up to live the same day, and tries to improve his scheduled movements. I found this character, Phil, intriguing because although he tried to change his choreography, there were some habitual movements that remained the same – the way he washes his face, his walk, opening of curtains. I found it interesting how the movie focused on Phil timing his own footsteps as well as the cars & people on the streets.
In contrariety to Groundhog Day, 50 First Date features Drew Barrymore as a woman who has completely forgotten her life from the date of her accident. She does not realise that she is living the same day every day. I found it interesting how the character showcases her inner emotions through singing whilst painting; and I wonder how the element of sound would relate to Jane Doe’s choreography.
However, I could only think about how Jane Doe could use “timing” as an element to define her choreography. This thought also relates back to the case study of William Forsythe’s Nowhere and Everywhere where active objects are timed to create definite choreographies (refer to page 28). Fig. 38. 50 First Dates (n.d.) Ace Showbiz [photo]
Fig. 37. Groundhog Day (n.d.) Wikipedia [photo]
The Subtlety Of Gender In The Interior Representation Of Patriarchy And Control Through The Domestic Interior By Pamela Flanagan. Although patriarchy did not form a part of my research, the occupation of space by a female and related features seemed intriguing. The research paper, The Subtlety of Gender in The Interior Representation of Patriarchy and Control Through The Domestic Interior by Pamela Flanagan spoke about sensory enjoyment of space. I wondered about what Jane Doe felt at the end of the day? Would she use the situational objects merely as props or would she grow sensory attached towards them? If she wouldn’t, then would she exist only physically and not cosmically? The essay mentions about an experience of privacy which causes free flow of thoughts and memories, which makes me think about the kind of experience that helps Jane Doe revisit her past.
The Weird and The Eerie by Mark Fischer.
Nowhere and Everywhere by William Forsythe.
Cafe Muller by Pina Bausch.
Now that my case studies helped me analyse the character and their relationship with the site, my research required a definitive idea ‘..“activating” the space…’ with ‘this new object placed within the sensible world [becoming] an active object.’ (de Castro, n.d.)
At this point I felt confident with the analysis of research conducted. However, due to the abstract value of the situation/host/character and hence, the function, I needed to define what spatial choreography meant, and how I hoped to incorporate it into the site.
My research so far reflected on the character, the site and the objects. Nonetheless, it did not clearly define spatial choreography. Hence, in addition to analysing William Forsythe’s Nowhere and Everywhere, I happened to look at Pina Bausch’s Cafe Muller.
The Weird and The Eerie by Mark Fisher helped generate critical thoughts and keywords. The familiar and the strange, their irruption from the outside, the belongingness of weird in the familiar. It mentioned an “egress” that binds the supernatural with the natural. It made me revisit my site and analyse the meaning of egress in terms of intangibility - an emotion, a past experience.
As opposed to #SetinTheStreet5, Nowhere and Everywhere by William Forsythe houses unfamiliar moving objects in an empty space. Although people don’t know what the objects are, their choreographies are defined by the object’s movements. If I were to place an “active” object at the site, would it be meaningful or would be a weird, unidentifiable key to movement?
Cafe Muller is a choreography based on Pina Bausch’s childhood memories of her parent’s establishment. This act depicts her various personalities navigating through the space with their eyes shut. It focuses on the sense of touch. There are moments in this choreography that portray mirroring and doubling to illustrate her parallel memories. An intriguing point of the choreography was where a man in a suit was trying to force movements onto 2 other people through repetition. Eventually, the 2 people get so habituated to these forced movements that they start performing it habitually until they realise the significance of their own movement. This helped me analyse critically the definition of “outside force” and “habituation.”
Fig. 40. williamforsythe.com (n.d.) Nowhere and Everywhere [photo]
Fig. 41. williamforsythe.com (n.d.) Nowhere and Everywhere [photo]
Fig. 42. Cafe Muller by Pina Bausch (n.d.) Planet estream [photo]
Refer to Appendix 05 for more on #SetinTheStreet by Justin Betman.
Fig. 39. The Weird and The Eerie (n.d.) repeaterbooks.com [photo]
What is the force that would lead to Jane Doe making her movements? Would she be in control of these movements? Would she get habituated to them?
Dogville (film). The town of Dogville projects itself as a 2-Dimensional floor plan. The streets, houses, doors and even the dog, are all marked on the floor of a set. It is intriguing in the sense that it replaces objects with sounds. It attributes a single object to each character, which is then layered to characterise further. I wondered how the intangibility of walls of a space alter the way we perceive it. I thought about how Jane Doe would react to a sudden lack of visual cues that primarily help distinguish spaces. However, it was simply a reference that I would keep in my back pocket.
The Madman and The Nun (play).
Malcroix by Henri Bosco.
While I was analysing Dogville, I happened to remember a talk given by a PhD student, Ozlem Gezgin. She had presented a video of the play “The Madman and The Nun.” The set design of this play helped me think about personalisation of objects w.r.t. the character, the kite shaped bed and how the character imbibes it and vice versa. It also depicted what that particular object would look like to only one specific character.
Flipping through these very interesting case studies, I was constantly looking for snippets of ideas that would help me generate critical questions to detail my research. Whilst reading The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard, I came across a poetry by Henri Bosco.
Reflecting on the why’s and how’s, I noticed the correlation between objects, spaces and characters.
Henri Bosco in Malicroix mentioned, ‘There is nothing like silence to suggest a sense of unlimited space. Sounds lend color to space, and confer a sort of sound body upon it. But absence of sound leaves it quite pure...’ as he explains the fortitude his house possessed. I love the way the author has considered “silence” as a sound and sensation. Is it a familiar sensation for Jane Doe? Does she remember what she sounds like and what silence feels like?
Fig. 43. wikipedia.com (n.d.) Dogville [photo]
Fig. 44. wikipedia.com (n.d.) Dogville [photo]
Fig. 45. wikipedia.com (n.d.) The Madman and The Nun [photo]
Function decision 01. Reflecting on case studies by defining their role in shaping either characters, choreography or situation, helped understand what exactly I was looking to find. Based on these reflections, I thought about how I could define the relationship between objects and Jane Doe. Will she organise these objects? Or will they control her and hence her choreography? At this point, considering the site as an abstract space of practice seemed vague. However, I felt that the case study analysis needed to be more precise.
Fig. 46. Object - Jane Doe - Movement - Memory
Fig. 49. Visual showing function of site
Fig. 48. Visual showing function of site
Fig. 47. Object - Jane Doe - Movement - Memory
Dissecting case studies. Having presented a critical analysis of case studies and the halfdone visuals of my site function, I felt there was something missing, a naturalistic element that could bind this brief together. Revisiting and more specifically, reflecting upon my case study analysis helped me develop a definitive function and purpose. The idea of interpreting time as memory questioned the elements forming the memory as well as its length. Referring to Pina Bausch’s Cafe Muller, I whether this memory could be domesticated to bound the walls of a home. Gaston Bachelard in The Poetics of Space6 cites, ‘...over and beyond our memories, the house we were born in is physically inscribed in us. It is a group of organic habits.’ Subsequently, I wonder how can the very walls and floors of Jane Doe’s childhood home be replicated in a smaller, single levelled site. Which elements within these walls would form her most significant memories?
Refer to Appendix 06 for more on The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.
Critically analysing these case studies, I wondered if Jane Doe’s interpretation of her childhood home could be laid out as one floor plan on the soil of the site. It would be interesting to see how she would access the attic and the basement using an intangible staircase that hypothetically existed on the same floor. This “weird” phenomenon as mentioned by Mark Fischer in The Weird and The Eerie, in addition to the site specific floor marked furniture, would help to develop if not answer, questions around spatial choreographies induced by memories.
Function decision 02. During the final group tutorial before the WiP show, I presented the mindmap that dissected the previously analysed case studies. These case studies honestly left me feeling astounded and overwhelmed. I felt like I was running uphill, tapping these important pieces of information, that I had to now collate in order to build something thought-provoking. The dissection did eventually help develop a specified site function. Through memory and the feeling of embodiment of home that Gaston Bachelard proposes, the site would entail a home. This unconventional space will be designed as inspired by the use of objects and spaces in Dogville and Cafe Muller. Jane Doe, the occupant, will be surrounded by a dynamic situation caused by her memory. The length of her memory will allow her to navigate through these intangibly walled spaces and objects and perform domestic tasks. The idea of designing the layout of the space will depend of the impact it has on Jane Doe’ changing movements. These movements will culminate as a routine performance which will allow her to regain her best length of memory, and would eventually allow her to move back to her original home.
Fig. 50. Collage showcasing function of site representing Jane Doe’s memory of home
As a design choice based on chapter 01 of The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard7, I decided to include the bed, attic, basement and staircase as spaces/objects of the situation.
Refer to Appendix 07 for more on Chapter 01 of The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.
Fig. 51. Collage showcasing function of site representing Jane Doe’s memory of home
Production 01. Which spaces and objects, how and why?
The production phase began with two questions 1. What is it that I wish to portray through your project? 2. How do I wish to present it?
Question 01. The first question was answered whilst defining the site function. On dissecting case studies, I thought about the kind of impact spaces and objects would have on Jane Doe and vice versa. What would this impact mean? Will it be sensory attachment? How would the site materiality help her engage her memory?
Fig. 52. Collage showcasing atmosphere of the site
I felt like this was a confusing spot to be in. I decided to conduct theoretical research on spatial impact alongside iterating layout of the site.
Fig. 53. Collage showcasing atmosphere of the site
Objects & spaces. As a part of Contextual Research Methods elective of Stage 01, I had conducted autoethnographic research on the impact of inanimate objects in a personal space and the feeling of belongingness. I thought that I could use this research as a part of making design decisions. Since Jane Doe possesses a fictional characteristic of few movements/moments worth of memory, which is caused as a result of habitual reliance on signage and cues, it seemed necessary to install an interactive visual cue that would, in fact, help her remember. To understand WHY something meant more than the other, I looked at its permanency of existence and possessive value. NB. Here, to avoid a lot of complexity, I have assumed that the possessive value of objects is w.r.t. personal and not social value.
Fig. 54. Layout iterations
Having made a decision to understand memory values of the attic and basement as common spaces, bedroom as a private space and staircase as a connecting space, it came down to objects and their layers. I thought about the bed as an object, it seemed to be a prerequisite of a personal bedroom. It also opened to exploring spaces above and below. Secondly, a chair and its highly dynamic usage as cited by 100 Ways of Sitting8. However, I hit pause to focus on the layout first.
Fig. 55. Layout iterations - movement using staircase towards bed
Question 02. “How to present work” is a significant questions as it helps culminate weeks of research. It was discussed during week 08 group tutorial with Thomai. She suggested creating an editorial of Jane Doe’s narrative. Having liked this idea, I further discussed it with Jake. On explaining to him the crux of my project and the recently dissected case studies, we discussed about choreographies as mundane movements.
Fig. 56. Layout iterations - movement using staircase towards attic
Fig. 58. Sia’s Chandelier Dance Choreography [photo]
The above video suggests a choreographer teaching Sia’s choreography to Chandelier. Intriguingly, he teaches these steps by naming them after mundane activities. It provided an angle to think about how domestic movements within a home could also include sub movements. For instance, throwing a dog’s toy while walking up the stairs. I decided to explore these movements and capture them as long exposure shots.
Refer to Appendix 09 for more on Sia’s choreography to Chandelier. Fig. 57. Layout iterations - movement using staircase towards basement
I figured that my research so far may not have a solution or a reason as to why Jane Doe regained her memory and how, and if she did go back to her city home. So I decided that instead, I would want to depict what actually happened inside the site. And highlight this intriguing relationship between memory, movement, spaces, objects and their lack thereof. I further thought about what aspects of the research would it entail?
Fig. 59. Experimenting with movement and sub-movement standing 01
Fig. 60. Experimenting with movement and sub-movement standing 02
Fig. 61. Experimenting with movement sitting 01
Fig. 62. Experimenting with movement with object sitting 02
Fig. 63. Experimenting with movement and sub-movement standing 03
Fig. 64. Experimenting with movement and sub-movement standing 04
Some with answers, some with supporting experiments; all critical
I realised that documenting movements and sub-movements to experiment with spatial exploration by taking long exposure photographs wasn’t enough. Though these images depicted movement, they failed to explain the why’s and how’s that I have been going after. I wondered if a narrated video (refer to figure 58, page 46) would depict my research better.
Verticality vs. Horizontality of home. Gaston Bachelard in The Poetics of Space (1994) talks about a house containing a body of images; he states that, ‘To bring order into these images, I believe that we should consider two principal connecting themes: 1) A house is imagined as a vertical being. It rises upward. It differentiates itself in terms of its verticality. It is one of the appeals to our consciousness of verticality...’ He further mentions how this verticality is a perception created by the ‘...polarity of the cellar and attic,..’
Sensory attachment and occupation. A well established notion about a few storied home is ones changing perception through the bottom most space to the attic. This notion is further highlighted by thriller films/series that showcase the basement as a storage of the evil, and the top floor areas as spaces of positivity/love. But what would happen once this verticality comes crashing down; when the slants of the roof no longer bear the home’s geography, and when the attic no longer guards the house and the cellar no longer stores the home’s darkest secrets? (Comparing the verticality with the layout of Dogville) Would Jane Doe’s memory of traversing from bottom up, or down to the cellar be affected and how? How do spatial perceptions change with changed verticality? The video aims to depict the confusion and speculation caused by this phenomenon.
On watching The Handmaid’s Tale and reflecting on Pam’s research paper, I wondered how one develops sensory attachment to objects and spaces around them. What what role does occupation of the space play. I wonder if sensory attachment with objects and spaces arises from interaction. If Jane Doe had to exist in a boundary-less space with no scope of interaction, would she still remember “the first step”? Would her sensory attachment with her previous space (home) allow her to understand how to move? However, if she had to exist in only one space for her entire life, attachment may be caused by repetition, habituation, monotony, familiarity and, wear and tear. But, since she will now be occupying a discontinuous space (the radar), how would her past experiences in a “social product”10 (Baluvelt, 2003) reflect onto an abstract space?
Refer to Appendix 10 for Strangely Familiar Design and Everyday Life by Andrew Baluvelt.
Fig. 65. Drawing of a house rising upwards
Objects and layers (as visual cues.) Many humans are surrounded by a number of domestic objects that necessarily define their personality. As mentioned in my Stage 01 CRM submission, this object for me is my study desk. Subsequently, I thought about which domestic object(s) would Jane Doe memorise and how she react to their presence?
Stories like Goldilocks, movies like Dear Zingadi (2016), plays like Cafe Muller (1985) have placed an object, a chair, central to ones life situation. It is often compared to an emotion, state of mind. “The chair is too slouchy, this ones too stiff, this is weirdly cosy...”
“Sometimes it is the absence of an object that paradoxically brings its presence.” (Blauvelt, 2003) when talking about Rachel Whiteread’s Daybed11.
I wondered how Jane Doe’s situation would be reflected by a chair, and vice versa. Is it a study chair, a dining chair, a lounge chair? And which absent objects would it reflect alongside?
Rachel Whiteread’s Daybed highlights the absence of co-joining objects to assert the emergent objects presence. The absence of object A1 + the presence of A2 would lead to reactions based on memory of the absent object + action related to it.
The video aims to depict this sudden realisation of a paradoxical presence through an absence. She feels elated at first to see a familiar object, her object, her own chair, followed by an immersive reaction and then perplex.
Refer to Appendix 11 for Rachel Whiteread’s Daybed.
Fig. 69. Experimenting with presence and absence 04 - present in memory
Fig. 67. Experimenting with presence and absence 02
Fig. 70. Experimenting with presence and absence 05 - present in memory
Fig. 68. Experimenting with presence and absence 03
Fig. 71. Experimenting with presence and absence 06 - present in memory
In contrariety, Justin Betman’s #SetinTheStreet places many generic living room objects together, as if it were a real living room. In this situation too one would normally know how to react to the setting. How? It is the familiarity of space, but also previous experience in memory that help one react as expected.
Fig. 66. Experimenting with presence and absence 01
Movement and sound. What kind of movements? Who is narrating? Is there sound? What is its impact on the choreography? Movements - are they repetitive, forced, those without objects, those with, in what pace and how will they showcase emotions.
Sound - Is this sound an authority like the man who forced movements in Pina Bausch’s Cafe Muller? Or is it like a friendly, guiding, advising sound? I went back to Malcroix’s poetry where he’s mentioned the sound of silence and it got me thinking how the silence of the site would impact Jane Doe. I wondered how the site would reciprocate with her, and if it is the one making her move.
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The foremost point of contact of a home, the door, helps one distinguish the entry or exit of an occupant from the other. It is embedded in our memory to an extent that a familiar door may mean home. The act of opening the door and shutting repetitively depicts Jane Doe’s memory of this very movement that has caused habituation. Every absent door is now a door to her home. Fig. 72. Screenshot from video - repetitive movement
Being swayed by the act of opening the door and shutting out the busy, grey world to feel relieved and safe, Jane Doe assumes the existence of a coat hanger by the door. Suddenly distracted by the nearing noise of her dog’s collar, she overlooks the object’s absence, thereby leaving the coat be. She pets her dog and climbs up the stairs in the direction embedded in her memory. She feels so casually home until now, that she blindly makes sub-movements, even while climbing up the stairs. The stairs creak, but despite of that, her rhythm does not change. She knows she is home.
Fig. 73. Screenshot from video - absent object, memory
However, the boundaries of this new space, the radar, and significantly the drenched wooden logs, snap her back to reality. She touches it to reassure herself. She looks around, gazes, the space looks anew for there is no attic and there is no basement. She realises, now the slants of the roof lie solely in her memory. Fig. 74. Screenshot from video - sensory attachment, boundary
She thinks to herself, “but didn’t the floor creak?” as she steps a couple of times on a pit of soil, reeking of petrichor.
Fig. 75. Screenshot from video - sensory attachment, materiality
“What is it that I feel?”, she wonders as she dusts the mud off of her foot. Fig. 76. Screenshot from video - speculation, realisation of new space with a visual cue
Unamused by the way her memory played her, she frantically calls for her dog. She pats on her thighs, calls out his name. Perplexed and hazed by the sound of silence, she runs down the staircase, hoping to dive into another space.
Fig. 77. Screenshot from video - speculation, confirming absence and presence
And to her surprise, she almost does! She finds her study chair dramatically waiting for her, its presence reminding her of the absence of what once surrounded it. Fig. 78. Screenshot from video - presence of object, realisation with touch
Elated, she quickly jumps onto the chair. She fits into it as if it were the only object of her being. Well rested, she now feels comfortable, she now feels home.
Fig. 79. Screenshot from video - presence of object, memory based movement
Once again immersed into what used to be, she finds herself flipping through a page of a book she can no more see. Fig. 80. Screenshot from video - absence of object, memory based movement
The absence of the book suddenly reminds her of the absence of her home. In an instant, she detaches herself from the sensory pleasure that she was enjoying. Scared, confused, alarmed, she accepts that she is somewhere. Here and there, but will never know where.
Fig. 81. Screenshot from video - realisation of new space due to absence of objects instigated by a present object (chair)
Staircase III by Do Ho Suh.
The Tall Windows (1913) by Hammershoi.
To serve your curiosity. And mine.
Staircase III is one in a series of installations that has been designed by Do Ho Suh on reflecting upon his memories of architectural spaces. He tries to combine his parents’ traditional Korean home with his New York apartment. It highlights a transitional space which is neither a room, nor a backyard, but something that lies “in-between.”
Fig. 83. The Tall Windows (1913) by Hammershoi
Fig. 82. wikicommons.com (n.d.) Staircase III [photo]
03. Emergence as in Object Oriented Ontology.
‘...the phenomenon known as emergence, in which new properties appear when smaller objects are joined together into a new one. This is visible everywhere in human life.’ ‘Four and a half million people together form the present-day city of Ankara, Turkey, but Ankara is obviously not 4.5 million individuals assembled in a mass...Ankara has emergent structures that belong to the city as a whole rather than to its parts, such as marriages, families, clubs, professions and political parties, not to mention the Turkish slang terms current in various age groups.’ (Harman, 2018)
Dewi Van De Klomp’s Soft Cabinets.
#SetinTheStreet by Justin Bateman.
The Poetics of Space by Gaston Bachelard.
Chapter 01, The Poetics of Space.
Soft Cabinets, ‘...which are made from foam rubber in a bid to bring more attention to the “overlooked” material.’ The design aims to ‘... questioning and challenging our vision of strength and resistance and therewith the material used, in a very poetic way.’ (Hitti, 2020)
This set in the street was originally designed to advertise a nearby cinema at Times Square Arts, NYC. Nonetheless, the choreographic aim of this intervention largely informs the fact that when familiar objects are grouped together, one almost always knows how to navigate their way around it. How does familiarity affect speculative movement?
‘But over and beyond our memories, the house we were born in is physically inscribed in us. It is a group of organic habits.’ ‘After twenty years, in spite of all the other anonymous stairways, we would recapture the reflexes of the “first stairway,” we would not stumble on that rather high step. The house’s entire being would open up, faithful to our own being. We would push the door that creaks with the same gesture, we would find our way in the dark to the distant attic. The feel of the tiniest latch has remained in our hands.’
‘Then there are the stairways: one to three or four of them, all different. We always go down the one that leads to the cellar, and it is this going down that we remember, that characterizes its oneirism. But we go both up and down the stairway that leads to the bed-chamber. It is more commonly used; we are familiar with it.’
‘We are the diagram of the functions of inhabiting that particular house, and all the other houses are but variations on a fundamental theme.’ (Bachelard, 1994) The author calls the word “habit” too worn a word to express this passionate liaison of our bodies. These paragraphs depict the meaning of “embodiment of home” and “embodiment of dreams through home.” Fig. 84. dezeen.com (2020) Soft Cabinets [photo]
Fig. 86. timesquarearts.com (n.d.) #SetinTheStreet [photo]
‘...I believe that we should consider two principal connecting themes: 1) A house is imagined as a vertical being. It rises upward. It differentiates itself in terms of its verticality. It is one of the appeals to our consciousness of verticality. 2) A house is imagined as a concentrated being. It appeals to our consciousness of centrality.’ (Bachelard, 1994) The author mentions the different ways in which we perceive the “verticality” of our homes. For instance, the attic is the topmost space and reflects maximum light and hence is seen as a positive space vs. the cellar which imbibes a darker space below into the Earth. He has highlighted how we, as humans, perceive our journeys to these respective spaces differently.
Fig. 87. timesquarearts.com (n.d.) #SetinTheStreet [photo]
Fig. 85. dezeen.com (2020) Soft Cabinets [photo]
100 Ways of Sitting.
Sia’s choreography to Chandelier.
Strangely Familiar Design & Everyday Life.
Rachel Whiteread’s Daybed.
‘100 Ways of Sitting explores the hidden affordances our everyday environments hold. It asks each participant to sit on a ubiquitous stool 100 different ways. Over the course of the exercise, participants realize the activity isn’t about sitting at all, but rather exploring and unlocking the creative potential of their body.’ (Elefterin, 2016)
Andrew Blauvelt in Strangely Familiar Design and Everyday Life (2003) mentions while talking about Lefebvre, ’...Lefebvre understands space as neither natural nor abstract, but rather as something that is consciously created, and inturn, produces specific effects. He countered the ideal classical and modernist notions of a universal, abstract space dominated by visual proposing instead of a social space composed of differences. For him, space is a social product, not a neutral container, one that can encourage or discourage certain practices and behaviours.’
‘Sometimes it is the absence of an object that paradoxically brings forth its presence in the world, such as artist Rachel Whiteread’s Daybed for London-based furnishings company SPC, which recalls the impression of a bed’s mattress and frame.’ (Blauvelt, 2003)
Fig. 89. Daybed (1999) by Rachel Whiteread
Fig. 88. 100 Ways of Sitting (2016) by Ari Elefterin
Images reference list. Hammershoi, V., 1913. The Tall Windows. [Art]. IMDB (1993) ‘Groundhog Day (1993)’ [photograph] in imdb. com. Available at https://www.imdb.com/title/tt0107048/ [accessed 17 March 2021] Aceshowbiz (2005) ‘Adam Sandler And Drew Barrymore In Columbia Pictures’ 50 First Dates (2004)’ [photograph] in Aceshowbiz.com. Available at https://www.aceshowbiz. com/still/00000310/fifty_first_date03.html [accessed 17 March 2021] Pinterest (n.d.) ‘The Cherry Street from the movie Groundhog Day’ [photograph] in Pinterest.com. Available at https://in.pinterest.com/pin/346917977520822341/ [accessed 17 March 2021] Wikipedia (n.d.) The Handmaid’s Tale [photograph] in wikipedia.com. Available at https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ The_Handmaid%27s_Tale_(TV_series) [accessed 17 March 2021] Repeater Books (n.d.) The Weird and The Eerie [photograph] in repeaterbooks.com. Available at https://repeaterbooks.com/product/the-weird-and-the-eerie/ [accessed 17 March 2021] Cafe Muller. 1978. [Film] Choreographed by Pina Bausch. Germany: s.n. Foresythe, W. (2018) ‘Nowhere and Everywhere at The Same Time’ williamforsythe.com. Available at https://www.williamforsythe.com/installations.html?&pid=4&count=15&no_cache=1&detail=1&uid=65. [accessed 17 March 2021] Wikipedia (n.d.) Dogville [photograph] in https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dogville [accessed 17 March 2021]
Dezeen (2020) Soft Cabinets [photograph] in https://www. dezeen.com/2020/08/13/dewi-van-de-klomp-foam-furniture-soft-cabinets-design/ [accessed 29 April 2021] Bettman, J. (2015) ‘#SetintheStreet’ Times Square Arts. Available at http://arts.timessquarenyc.org/times-squarea rts/projects/ a t - t h e -c r o s s r o a d s /timessquare-setinthestreet/index.aspx.[accessed 29 April 2021] Elefterin, A. (2016) ‘100 Ways of Sitting’ Ari. Available at http://www.ari-elefterin.com/100-ways-of-sitting [accessed 03 May 2021] Whiteread, R. (1999) ‘Daybed’ Phillips. Available at https:// www.phillips.com/detail/rachel-whiteread/UK030115/218 [accessed 03 May 2021]
Kaye, Nick. Site-Specific Art: Performance, Place and Documentation. United Kingdom, Taylor & Francis, 2013. De Castro Willys (2019-2020) ‘TJourneys of Abstraction—The Patricia Phelps de Cisneros Gift’ MoMA [online] Available at: https://www.moma.org/collection/works/106710 [accessed 17 March 2021]
Natasha Hitti (2020) ‘Dewi van de Klomp’s foam furniture morphs and sags in response to its contents’ Dezeen [online] Available at: https://www.dezeen.com/2020/08/13/ dewi-van-de-klomp-foam-furniture-soft-cabinets-design/ [accessed 29 April 2021]
Kunst, B (n.d.) ‘Emerging Bodies: The Performance of Worldmaking in Dance and Choreography.’ Dance and Work: The Aesthetics and Political Potential of Dance, pp 47-59. Bachelard, Gaston. The Poetics of Space. United Kingdom, Boston, Beacon Press, 1994. Harman, G., 2018. Object Oriented Ontology: A New Theory of Everything. United Kingdom: Penguin Books Limited. Flanagan, Pamela, The Handmaid’s Tale: The Subtlety of Gender in the Interior (Palgrave, 2017) Fisher, M., 2016. The Weird and The Eerie. London: Repeater Books. Cafe Muller. 1978. [Film] Choreographed by Pina Bausch. Germany: s.n. Foresythe, W. (2018) ‘Nowhere and Everywhere at The Same Time’ williamforsythe.com. Available at https://www.williamforsythe.com/installations.html?&pid=4&count=15&no_cache=1&detail=1&uid=65. [accessed 17 March 2021] Witkiewicz, S. I., 1968. The Madman and the Nun and Other Plays. s.l.:University of Washington Press. Bosco, H., 1946. Malicroix. New York: New York Review of Books. Baluvelt, Andrew. Strangely Familiar Design and Everyday Life. USA, Minnesota, Walker Art Center, 2003.
Tate.org (n.d.) Staircase III [photograph] in https://www. tate.org.uk/art/artworks/suh-staircase-iii-t13344 [accessed 29 April 2021]
Text reference list.
Fin. Thank you.
Simran Gupte MDes Interior Design The Glasgow School of Art