Author Archives: Caroline Harrison

Conference Project: NYC: A Study of Light

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My map defines the invisible process of the way in which natural light adds to the beauty and theatricality of specific buildings in New York City. I feel as though the sunlight that streams in through the windows of these architectural monuments adds to the beauty and warmth of the building itself, and ultimately leads to a type of performance put on by the interior of the structure. This “performance” makes the audience (or people within the structure) pay attention to the way in which the light hits various parts of the room, allowing better understanding or “absorption” of the architecture.

The viewer’s participation and individual reaction to the work deems the work itself as a theatrical performance meant to inspire reflection. There are specific factors that are applied to art and architecture (such as time and space in relation to weather, lighting, and season) that are regarded as essential to the display (or the performance) of the piece. The experience of the individual is what ultimately defines the work; an experience that is aroused by the way in which the room or building is displayed.

A lot of inspiration for this conference project comes from Tadao Ando’s Church of Light. This structure is one of the prime examples of the concept of theatricality in architecture and the difference between a structure’s era of “performance” versus the time in which environmental factors are not in favor of the building. The interior of the church is simple with very little ornament, and the major focus point of the structure (a large cross cut out of the wall that provides a source of light to the inside of the building) relates the interior directly to the exterior. In addition, essentially all of the visual documentation of this structure is taken at the point of the epiphany, and never when the interior is “void”; an act of censorship similar to the way in which artists can control the environment in which their work is displayed, unlike the real, functioning structure of the Church of Light in a current and continuous context.

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Tado Ando’s “Church of Light” Source: Google Images/forums.cgsociety.org

In this project, I went to various locations in my neighborhood on the upper west side and took note of which direction the windows were facing. I went to the Apple Store (SE), my own apartment (SE and S), Lincoln Center Opera House (E), Church of St. Paul the Apostle (SW and NW), and Grand Central Terminal (W and SW). After going back to these places 2-3 times throughout the semester, I realized that there were certain directions (most prominently, Southwest)  in which the sunlight was more consistently shown through the widow. This is where the surface of my map plays an important part; the yellow of the southwest corner represents the most sunlight while the opposite side of the “compass” (the Northeast corner) is gray and dark. Then, I took the pictures of the sunlight streaming through the windows and plotted them on the map’s surface in relation to the connection system: the compass.

Our initial discussions about what renders something “invisible” to society greatly influenced my thoughts the process behind figuring out this conference project. I feel as though the natural light coming in through a window is something that is so common that it is frequently overlooked, yet it still possesses a beauty that in the rare moments it is recognized, there are always feelings of warmth and pleasure associated with this experience. In this map I hope to bring this invisible process to light.

Throughout the semester, this project went through a series of revisions; all of which contributed to the final product. In the beginning, I focused solely on collecting data and studying the light that came into these buildings, contemplating direction, time of day, and height of the structures. After this stage of the process was complete, I discussed the ways in which I would plot these points, and what the surface of the map would be. Through trial and error, I established that the surface of the map would attempt to copy the “color” of light; as in, the way in which sunsets (one of the more vivid displays of light) have countless variations of color schemes. I took multiple pictures of sunsets and made many copies of the color gradients that were displayed in the photo.

One of the main complications that presented itself throughout this project was the fact that many of the buildings I studied in New York City are surrounded by other, taller structures. This meant that there were often times when sunlight should have been streaming in through windows in the building, but this warmth was being blocked by the rest of the towering city. Even on the sunny days I went to these buildings, they would often seem a lot darker in comparison to the sun’s actual force that day. (Side Note: While most of the buildings were mostly dark, if one went a few blocks away to the great lawn in Central Park, hoards of people were swarming for a spot in the sun).

A pleasant surprise while working on this project were the reactions (unprompted) of other people in the spaces I was studying. There were times (although infrequent) that people would stop for a second and bask in the warmth of the sunlight indoors, or purposefully stand in the patch of natural light on the ground. Without even realizing it, the few people that displayed this behavior confirmed my idea that this was something beautiful; something that could be mapped and discussed.

The concepts from the class that influenced this project the most were the discussions we had on what could be deemed “invisible” in this society. In addition, the discussion during the Psychogeography project about “site-specific” sculptures was incredibly relevant to my project in the sense that in the buildings I studied, environmental factors were directly related to the various data I collected.    

Conference Project Draft #1: Mapping Light

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My map defines the invisible process of the way in which natural light adds to the beauty and theatricality of specific buildings in New York City. I feel as though sunlight that streams in through the windows of these architectural monuments adds to the beauty and warmth of the building itself, and ultimately leads to a type of performance put on by the interior of the structure. This “performance” leads to the audience (or people within the structure) paying attention to the way in which the light hits various parts of the room, allowing better understanding and absorption of the architecture.

Our initial discussions about what renders something “invisible” to society greatly influenced my thoughts the process behind figuring out this conference project. I feel as though light is something that is so common that it is frequently overlooked, yet it still possesses a beauty that in the rare moments it is recognized, there are always feelings of warmth and pleasure associated with this experience. In this map I hope to bring this invisible process to light and make this beauty available to be viewed consistently rather than in the brief moments of time when natural light is visible indoors.

The vague areas of this piece are the how I will plot each building on the compass. I intend to pick a direction (south-west, as this tends to be the side of the building that gets the most sunlight, without acknowledging in the vast amount of factors that alter this statement such as floor level or proximity to other buildings) and place the most color in the surface in this part of the map, making these places/points deemed more “beautiful”.

By choosing to map this process on photoshop, I will be able to attempt to copy the various color gradients of natural light through the multiple functions on paint. Additionally, the text and the straight lines of the compass will be done entirely on photoshop, making the map neater and allowing the pictures stand out against the soft background of the surface.

Artist Reference: Original maps and cartographers

Stalkers: Post Mortem

image3 image2 Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.35.00 PM For our space, we chose make our sculpture more interactive by focusing on the vibe of the stalker rather than a specific, targeted act of stalking itself. Instead of designing a sculpture to be fixed on observing a particular place (i.e. always looking into one window), we wanted to make our sculpture semi-hidden and to stalk people passing by on Bates Hill. Some sculptures will go unnoticed until you just pass them — only for them to be out of sight when one tries to investigate. Going about this at several points down the hill replicates the creepy, omnipresent feeling of the stalker. Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.37.38 PM Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.38.49 PM Screen shot 2015-04-21 at 2.40.04 PM We are attempting to use our figure to impose a creeping sense that the site is stalking those who interact with it. Since people most frequently walk down Bates hill, and our repeating, wide-eyed figure slowly becomes more defined as they move that way, it is our intention that people will perceive our figure as appearing with the intention of observing them. Transversely, by recognizing this sudden unexpected presence and observing it, we think that people will themselves become stalkers (i.e. observers with intention). We are using the natural topography of the site to help display our figures in a way that draws the audience’s eye to these installations. As people walk down (or up) the hill, the natural slope of the site (along with the various trees, rocks, and bushes) provide various ways to help partially conceal our figures, forcing the audience to have a more “searching” eye and adding a slight air of mystery. Our piece is  an example of psychogeography in the way that it promotes a new sense of consciousness and awareness about the space. By placing our sculpture, we have transformed our space into one that invites exploration from any pedestrian that interacts with it. To someone who regularly traverses Bates hill, there is something new there, and not only is it curious, it’s watching you. It is our hope that by transforming our space using the notions of psychogeography (specifically the stalker), we have turned people’s awareness into their environment in a way that makes them psychogeographers, or stalkers, themselves. We were definitely inspired by the stalkers we read about. We used the reading to form a general idea about the ethos of the stalker. From the reading, we took the ideas that the stalker is attached to the moment, is personally involved in the observation. They are intense, zoomed in on particular things, and gain their freedom by taking others.  Their journeys are made with intent, and they are somewhat manic and uncontrolled. We think we have put these elements into our sculptures. Our site makes visible these notions of psychogeography. We were influenced by the artists  Picasso and Susan Graham.

Psychogeography: Stalker

List of methods that were used to traverse the campus: -Being completely concealed/hidden and observing the area/people surrounding -Following someone/something consistently (ex: a person walking out of bates, following a squirrel) -Immersing one’s self in a crowded area in order to inconspicuously follow someone. -Taking alternative paths to remain hidden from view. -Also: Taking on the part of an observer by taking crowded paths, immersing one’s self to be hidden in plain sight.

Self-Portrait Draft #2: A Map of Emotional Movement

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In this second draft of my self-portrait, I wanted to continue with the idea that the two places I have lived (New York and New Jersey) have had different (but equal) influences on me. However, with the help of crit and conference, I realized that my first map was more of a collage of the different aesthetics of these two locations, rather than a map of these place’s influences.

In order to make this draft of my self-portrait a map rather than a collage, I added rough, hand-drawn sketches of my bedrooms in each location to represent a sign system. There are multiple locations (and therefore multiple bedrooms) because of the amount of times I have moved within both states. The size of each sketch is relative to the amount of time lived there (which happens to coincide with the amount of influence the place has had on me). “UNKNOWN, NY” is a glimpse toward the future, as I know I am going to be moving apartments within New York City in the next few months. This unknown location is already slightly affecting some of my life choices, therefore influencing me in the present, despite the uncertainness of the place. The text within each room are words that represent my feelings towards that place and how they have affacted me.

The connective system shows which places are related in the terms of “moving house”. In the period of the last six years, “home” has been multiple locations at once, and the lines of pictures that cross between the rooms represent which houses I moved directly to and from. The pictures that make up these lines are representations of each place, what I think of when I think of each individual location.

The background of the map is how one is intended to differentiate between positive experiences of moving and negative experiences of moving. The darker the background gets, the more sad or traumatic the loss of a home/house was. For example, the move between Galloway, NJ and Manhattan, NY was a time of sadness due to the relocation to a new place from a childhood home.

Ideas that were discussed in the class readings, such as the fact that maps give us a type of reality that allows for a deeper understanding of specific individualistic ideals deeply influenced my own self-portrait. The idea that maps give us a sense of identity is an important aspect that I wanted to portray, especially because of the quote “mapped images have become essential to our sense of the world, to our place within it, to much of our identity” and “even our sense of coming from a particular place. . . to our sense of who we are, of what we’re doing, of where we’re going”. The aspect of a place’s importance in relation to an individual is something I wanted to show accurately. This self-portrait is a map because it proposes the idea that the relation between various locations are negative or positive/neutral in a personal sense. The map discards geography and time in order to make a statement about the influence of movement from one place to another. Through the display of specific rooms the represent different towns, and color-coded connective lines, the map makes the journey of movement between various places within NY and NJ (through my feelings toward these experiences) visible.

Artist References: Monica De Miranda-In the back of our hands and  Jeannie Thib- Georaphia. In addition, the class guest speaker provided inspiration for the idea of mapping out rooms in houses:

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Self Portrait: A Map of Personal Location

My self-portrait is a representation of the division between the places in which I have experienced increased growth, without taking into account the amount of time spent living at each location, as time or longevity is irrelevant in regards to influence of place. The two locations (Southern New Jersey and New York City) have completely different aesthetics: one is consumed by green foliage and marshland, the other is made entirely out of concrete and lights. The influence each place has had on my interests and personality has been incredibly different and frequently contradictory. This is the reason each location is represented as separate limbs,  both being displayed on an arm and a leg. The difference between the two is clear when analyzing the map, and the significance of each site located on the outer body parts indicates this division, one that pulls the self in different directions. The head is filled with imagery of both locations as a representation of the combined (yet still separated) influence and the slight chaos that is felt because of it. The connecting system is the fruit strewn on the street which is an indicator of the constant travel between the two places and a representation of the fact that despite their differences, the two locations are connected on both a personal and geographical level. This connection system is a representation of the incorporation of the more natural vision of S. Jersey slabbed across a New York City Street. The middle of the body is left blank in an attempt to display the fact that these two places have not entirely consumed the individual and there is room for growth. 

Ideas that were discussed in the class readings, such as the fact that maps give us a type of reality that allows for a deeper understanding of specific individualistic ideals deeply influenced my own self-portrait. The idea that maps give us a sense of identity is an important aspect that I wanted to portray, especially because of the quote “mapped images have become essential to our sense of the world, to our place within it, to much of our identity” and “even our sense of coming from a particular place. . . to our sense of who we are, of what we’re doing, of where we’re going”. The aspect of a place’s importance in relation to an individual is something I wanted to accurately show through this map. In addition, this work is categorized as a map due to the fact that it was made the same way many other maps are made; works that are used for people to “discover their minds and to connect themselves”. This self-portrait links two geographic locations in addition to providing a more individualistic and personal example of specific influence, which automatically gives it authority over the various territories it discusses in relation to the individual. My map proposes that the two locations are directly related through myself, the individual, due to their simultaneous influence and geographic proximity. It shows this relation as well as the chaos that ensues because of the vastly different aesthetic properties and the intensity in which each the two places display through their various forms of expression.

Artist Reference-

  Jeannie Thib- Georaphia

The separation of the gloves while still showing a consistent terrain was an important influence in my self-portrait, as the separation between place through the body, or body-like objects is something I attempted to convey in my own work. 

Monica De Miranda-In the back of our hands

The aspect of a map being represented on a hand (or a body part) was an influential piece to my own self portrait because it shows a direct relation of a geographic location to the human body, through the eyes of the individual artist. Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 12.50.16 PM Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 12.55.41 PM Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 12.56.09 PM Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 12.57.12 PM Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 12.56.57 PM Screen shot 2015-02-17 at 12.59.05 PM