Author Archive

Sound Switch

September 21, 2009

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What would happen to your sense of perception if your sense of hearing were reversed? I would be very interested to experiment with people’s reactions to hearing a sound in the ear opposite from where the sound originated. So often when we learn about the sense of hearing, we focus on the tone, pitch, rhythm, volume, and complexity of sound. Rarely do we explore the sense of distance we perceive ourselves to be from an object based on how close or far away we hear a sound. Sometimes before you experience something near you through sight, you hear it approaching you and turn your head to see it. How would your other senses try to compensate when your sense of hearing no longer helps you perceive your surroundings correctly? I think we take it for granted that our depth perception through sight is strongly augmented through our perception of sound. Sometimes you don’t look both ways before crossing the street if you don’t HEAR any cars coming. When you have no idea where your cell phone is hiding, you move around the room until you HEAR you are close to it ringing. Would you tune-in more closely to this phenomenon if you had to stop and think about what you heard?

I imagine this product to fit snuggly in both ears, much like ear-bud headphones, in hopes to prevent any outside noise from entering the ears. Each cone-like form would point toward the opposite direction from the ear it serves. These cones would basically channel sounds coming from a person’s left into their right ear, and vice-versa. Now I know this would not necessarily be a delightful, sensory-enhancing experience. This would be more of a curious exploration for someone interested in mixing up their usual reality. If you wore them long enough, would you start to train yourself to look the opposite direction of where you heard a sound? Or would your instant reaction still be the instinctual response? I am one of those people who always gets tricked when someone taps me on the opposite shoulder to make me turn the wrong way. Therefore, I believe I would have a terrible time adjusting to my sensory perception with this device. Though I would find this sound instrument highly frustrating, I think it could help me realize my reliance of my sense of hearing and appreciate the combination of sight and sound for understanding of my surrounding environment.

Sleeping + Living

September 14, 2009

Despite the countless hours I seem to spend in the studio, the majority of my existence is spent alone in my efficiency apartment. I chose to analyze the sleeping/living half of my apartment, as that is where I spend most of my time. Though I have spaces designated to eating and working on the other half of my one-room residence, the space pictured always ends up serving all necessary functions. Due to the amount of time I spend in this room, and the amount of personal control I have had over most details, I found my environmental cognition to relate quite accurately to my factual documentation.

The sleeping/living space of my efficiency is both comfortable and practical. In the layout of this one-room apartment, I made the most of my furniture to serve multiple functions, such as using the dresser as the TV stand, and setting up the television to be viewed from both the sofa and the bed. The finishes and materials used in the space are not fully ideal, as paint color and sofa fabric were not open for choice, however the room as a whole feels very inviting and comfortable. Through diffuse lighting provided by the three lamps and the welcoming layout of furniture, this space lures inhabitation.

This half of my efficiency is about 8.5 ft wide by 19 ft long, with a 9 ft ceiling. Since the two windows open to a very public parking area, I keep the blinds and black curtains closed at all times. Decent daylight comes in from the other half of the apartment, but I generally picture this space lit from the warm and delicate illumination from the lamps. I prefer to not use overhead lighting, so with just the three lamps turned on, the lighting level in the space is about 8 footcandles. When tasks require more light, it is easily adjusted with the option of overhead lights, and abundant light may flood in through the south-facing windows (if privacy may be compromised). The temperature is usually kept around 78 degrees Fahrenheit and though an abundance of sound occurs from surrounding exterior areas, the general sound level within this space is dulled and unnoticeable.

When comparing my remembrance of this place to the reality, my memory proved to be fairly precise. My plan sketched from memory is proportionally wider and shorter than the actual space and the spaces between furniture look exaggerated in the perspective, but overall there are no striking differences. I failed to include specific details in my drawing such as the baseboards and electric outlets, but for the most part, I could remember this space well because even on the rare occasion I gravitate to the other half of my efficiency, this area remains in sight, with the lack of dividing walls.

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Edward Scissorhands

September 10, 2009

If I had to choose one master of movie set design, it would be Tim Burton. With his moody, macabre film style, Tim Burton’s elaborate sets completely take on a key role in every one of his masterpieces. He has the ability to transform the viewer’s sense of reality into a surreal, new world. Whether he is taking you on a journey through Beetlejuice’s wacky residence, or the grunge of Gotham City, the films’ backdrops never remain in the background. One of my favorite examples of Burton’s scene-setting success is in the movie, Edward Scissorhands.castle1-500x312

Edward Scissorhands is an imaginary tale of Edward, an inventor’s unfinished creation, who was left to live alone in a dark, industrial castle, with scissors for hands. When the local Avon lady makes her rounds about town, her heart goes out to this lonely creature. She convinces Edward to come to her home, in the over-stylized suburban neighborhood his mansion overlooked. This highly-clichéd sense of suburbia serves as a clever contrast to Edward’s cold, mysterious origins.

Burton heightens the disparity between Edward and his new surroundings by exaggerating his stark, gray interiors with the rows of houses, merrily painted in pastels. The “stereotypical 50’s suburb” is humorously presented, with its freshly mowed lawns and men of the house arriving home from work at exactly the same time. The shift from expansive rooms, devoid of color, to the Avon lady’s light-hearted, colorful neighborhood, emphasizes Edward’s shocking transitional experience.

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Though the characters of Edward Scissorhands promote the achievement of the film, it is memorable because the effect the scenes have on the viewer. The interest of the plot comes from the recognition of the two very elaborate, very opposite settings presented. Tim Burton truly understands the effect of space around his quirky casts of characters.

Vengeance

September 7, 2009

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Vengeance, according to Steven Reiss, is the desire to get even, to compete, or to win. When motivated by vengeance, one is seeking the satiation of feelings such as competition, aggression, and vindication. Vengeful people are unusually sensitive to insults from others, always ready to provoke arguments and conflict. Common professions for people strongly motivated by vengeance include: attorneys, prosecutors, salesmen, professional athletes, soldiers, policemen, bouncers, and boxers. Places surrounding these vengeance-motivated individuals should not always be considered bad, or evil, they just might subtly portray emphasis on a more competitive or aggressive personality.

A literal expression of vengeance in a personal space is in the display of trophies. Whether it is an athlete’s case of golden statues or a hunter’s walls lined with taxidermy, one is choosing to make known their victory over others. To show off these prideful objects is to remember and provide proof of a satisfying, competitive incident.

All sporting event arenas can be identified as promoting vengeful desires. All seating and spatial elements are designed to bring central focus to the main event. Athletes and spectators alike go to a sporting event to experience competition, and triumph of one opponent over another. Especially in the case of a boxing ring, the primary purpose is for the competitors to aggressively fight each other until one has completely reached victory.

In the case of lawyers and police officers, many spaces they work in are created to induce anxiety and intimidation upon the perpetrator. In a courtroom, there are obvious spatial hierarchies developed to establish authority and prominence. The judge is set to be the highest figure in the room, both physically and lawfully. When a witness is put on the stand, he is elevated to a position where he is reminded of the attention focused on him at that time. The entire scene set in a courtroom is designed for the contentment of vindication.

In contrast to a courtroom, though still about seeking justice, an interrogation room puts the authority and the wrongdoer physically upon the same level, across the table from each other. The stark, enclosed interior and one-way mirror contribute to the desired psychological effect wanted by the interrogator. Usually, the room is dark with the exception of an intense bright light over the table. The unforgiving cold, hard materials emit fear and isolation.