Paul Gough Talk

I really enjoyed Paul Gough’s talk in class, and I feel like I took a lot of inspiration from it to consider the intention behind my individual project. Paul’s speciality is to do with memorialisation, and specifically places of memorial such as the Shrine of Remembrance, and how their design reflects what is being memorialised as well as how.
He talked about Cenotaphs, again like the one that stands in the Shrine of Remembrance, and how they act as a focal point for grief. He also noted that the walls or lists of names that are usually placed on or near these cenotaphs act as an index of collective memory, and ultimately become the point of reverence for the site of memorial.
He also talked about the life cycle of memorials, it’s creation as a place of public memory, the institutionalised date that is set for it – such as ANZAC day – and the reverence shown by not only the generation directly affected by the event being memorialised, but by following generations of children and grandchildren.
His ideas resonated with me and I feel like that my project of mapping out Building 20 directly relate to these ideas of memory, and cenotaphs; Building 20 stands quite proudly on the corner of two busy streets of Melbourne, and has done for decades, and so acts as a focal point of memory for the city.

Mapping a space | Building 20, time, and memory

After spending some time in Korsakow, I’ve had to reconsider the linearity of my project. Using Korsakow’s key word system, I could set up logical links, that is, set up the links so that a user would explore the place logically and methodically, as you would in real time. However, Korsakow is built around randomness, and the more I consider the existence of the building as one out of time, I thought that randomness could work quite well for the overall concept.
Rather than map the building as one of place, the capabilities of Korsakow can allow me to map it out as a place of time and memory, as something non-linear rather than physical, and euclidean. As memory is fragmented, and works based on sounds and sights that are related, Korsakow’s workflow will compliment this very well. My hopes are that with this style the building, it’s physical characteristics, and it’s existence as a piece of history will come through more readily than forcing the user to stagger through a slower paced and conventional linear gallery of images.

Korsakow Hang ups

Returning to Korsakow now, it’s absolutely a more robust program, and doesn’t crash or screw up nearly as much as it did last time I used it last year. The interface could use a lot more work still, but once you get the hang of the input it isn’t too bad at all.

It’s still a very manual program though, particularly with audio and image files, in that once you commit a file to the program, to alter it, you would have to delete the image, re-add it into the database, and then link it to the other media again. This can be an issue if you don’t plan ahead. There’s a lot of clicking too, and navigating the program can be tiresome at times, especially on a trackpad rather than a mouse. With what I’ve worked in it so far though, it’s not been too difficult.

I did have to ask around a bit to learn what each part of the program does (SNUs, Previews etc.), however that didn’t take to long to cover either. I requested an academic licence from the website, but they didn’t get back to me very quickly so I ended up buying a full version licence. Not long after I did though one of the creators of the program Florian contacted me and offered to refund me the extra money I paid for the full licence, which made me extremely happy with how they conduct themselves as a software proprietor.

Using Korsakow

For my individual project I’ve considered using an interactive platform. I want the user to be able to navigate the images I’ve taken at their own pace. I looked for other options for interactive photo galleries but did not like the restrictive linearity of them. I liked the idea of using my photographs to visually map out Building 20. Korsakow allows you to link images using key words so I can link locations in the building together, as well as characteristics of rooms or the structure itself.

Korsakow can be troublesome sometimes though, and in the past I remember it being very tricky to work with. It’s had updates since, so attempting to use it again seems worth it for the product it can create, that is, one that is pseudo-randomly generated and still allows a user to navigate their own preference of aesthetic or space of the building through my images.

Shelley Hornstein ‘Losing Site’ Introduction

Hornstein’s introduction to her book ‘Losing Site’ starts by discussing the idea of a place, using the Eiffel Tower as an example. She notes that despite the Eiffel Tower existing in it’s generally understood location, the act of sending a postcard or a photograph bearing the image of the Tower can create the basis of an argument that it now exists simultaneously in multiple places. She goes on to discuss how memories are formed within or about certain places or locations, and questions whether the destruction of them is actually a removal of the place, or just an instance of it. She states her two arguments being that architecture as a physical object becomes a place we memorise, and that the place continues to exist despite the physical state of the architecture itself.
Hornstein notes that of the case studies she has chosen to explore later in the book, “Many are examples of Jewish memory” with further mention of her past work on post-Holocaust sites. With these studies she suggests that places are the memories that are formed within them are inseparable. Technology becomes the focus of her final chapter in terms of interactive applications that map out heritage and help the user gain “an understanding of physical place” while “losing site”.

Brief 3, Week 7

Working Title
(YouTube Annotation Map)

This piece plans to use photographic images and audio within YouTube, using it’s hyperlinking annotation feature, to create an interactive user experience that explores the visual presence and timelessness of the Former Magistrate’s Court, now known as Building 20.

Users will be presented with a starting point image on the corner of Russell and LaTrobe Street, and from there be presented with hyperlinks to investigate architectural details, or move around and into the building’s interior.

Ever since moving to Melbourne I’ve always been fascinated by the timelessness of the buildings, and the anachronistic atmosphere set by the contrast of old and new.

This project is one that is concerned with memorials, and remembering. It focuses on the presence of architecture, and how it acts as a kind of temporal gateway. Walking through the streets of Melbourne you can tune into the vastly different design paradigms and styles, and experience a kind of temporal schizophrenia; time doesn’t seem to have a strong grasp on how the city continues to grow and be refurbished.

Screen Shot 2015-04-24 at 12.13.48 pm

Building 20 is simply one example of a structure that still stands after some 90 years, and has the privilege of being considered a Heritage building, and hence refurbishment by local architects, maintaining it’s facade while also keeping it fresh.

I plan to research further into the refurbishment of this building, particularly on the details that architect Peter Elliot considered before taking out the refurbishment.

Draft images, an audio mockup, and video simulation of what I plan the final product to look like can be found in this google drive folder.

Current targets for research and recording further material include:

  • Further investigation into the final platform, YouTube’s capabilities and limitations, and whether alternatives can be considered: April 25th – 26th
  • Research into the architectural influences of the building and pertinent details to focus on: April 25th – 26th
  • Research into court cases significant and otherwise for further context: 28th April (State Library, online), 20th April (Pulic Records Office)
  • Research into refurbishment, and Peter Elliot (architect) including potential email to ask for clarification in details of his approach to the design: 25th – 26th April
  • Confirm that courtrooms are empty for second shoot for extra photographic and audio material: April 25th – 26th
  • Second shooting day: May 2nd – 3rd (weekend if possible), if not, 5th or 7th
  • Further processing of images: Coming weekend, days following
  • Compile first drafts for uploading  May 9th – 10th

Pitch Notes

  • What is the idea?
    • A meditative photo essay studying the visual significance of the Former Magistrates Court, now known as Building 20. Meanwhile, audio pieces will accompany the images to illustrate the timeliness – or rather, timelessness – and historical significance of the building by invoking sounds of last century and the modern city.
    • Interactive elements will allow a user to navigate through the series of images & audio and view them at their own pace.
  • What will it look like?
    • Images will be tightly composed and considered to display the most pertinent features of the building’s exterior and interior.
    • Photography will use a mixture of wide and tight shots, to focus in on architectural details.
    • Emphasis will be put onto processing the images to bring out particular colours and shapeliness of the design, final images will not be so much realistic as embellished to better appreciate the visual presence of the heritage structure.
    • Audio will be minimal, and will aim to primarily create a mood for each image or section of images. For example, aural details such as horses and carriages, and trams will help place the image in time, or perhaps throughout it’s time, by mixing sounds both old and new.
    • Contextual information for each image may be included as a part of the image’s description, or perhaps as a part of each images aesthetic. This textual information would be minimal however as to not draw too much attention away from the visual aspect of the final piece.
  • How will this style be achieved?
    • The equipment being used is simple and nimble: Canon 60D with an 18-55mm & 50mm prime lens. The zoom lens provides wides, while the prime offers excellent frames for detail. A H2n zoom recorder will be used to record available sounds and foley, which will complement public domain and archival recordings in the audio pieces.
    • Software will include Adobe Lightroom for image processing, and Adobe Audition for audio editing and mixing.
    • While sound will be restrained in it’s execution, images will be processed to bring out the colours, textures, and shapeliness of the building’s architecture.
  • What platform will it be hosted?
    • Currently I am considering drawing on a quirky use of YouTube’s annotation system wherein each image can be rendered with the audio as a video, and sections of interest in each image can be highlighted as hyperlinks. By uploading images as these videos a private network of videos can be created so that users can navigate all of the videos like a virtual space.
    • YouTube makes for a lightweight and widely appropriated platform too that can be embedded and shared very easily and hence is very well future proofed as a perk. Embed settings can remove the title and playhead to make for a cleaner experience also.
    • This approach can however be clumsy in it’s execution, so other gallery/audio websites are being considered such as a blog that allows for full screen images and autoplay sound such as the more graphical blogging platform tumblr.
  • What work has been completed so far?
    • One location shoot has happened that yielded 80 photographs to be processed, of which a handful have gone through a first draft so far. Some areas of interest such as the courtrooms were being used during this shoot so a second trip will be organised when these spaces are free to photograph the remaining areas
    • Some sample audio has been looked over using (a very useful website along with for user generated public domain material) to accompany images, but the bulk of the sound will be picked once more photographs have been processed to match them.
  • What research is required?
    • More investigation into the capability and limitations of YouTube, and other blogging platforms, is needed to determine what the final platform will be.
    • Some further research into the Romanesque architecture that the building was designed with in mind is required, to provide myself and users some context of the style and type of architecture being viewed.
    • Details of significant court cases trialled in the courtrooms will be fleshed out to provide further context also.
    • Some research on, and if possible a short interview with, the architect Peter Elliot who carried out the refurbishment of the building to garner more details on how he approached the refurbishment, and how it respects the significance of the original building.
  • How will it address the theme of places and spaces?
    • I want to address the question of “Why do we remember?”. As Paul Gough came and spoke to use he talked about why we build memorials, and I’d like to, with this project, explore the beauty and significance of heritage design and the history that takes place within it. There is a strange timelessness to buildings such as this one, especially in Melbourne, and to consider that it still stands with all of the history that took place in and around it astounds me, and in a way, I hope this project will also in it’s own way memorialise the building.

‘A Skilled Hand & Cultivated Mind’ Reading on RMIT History & Architecture

I took a brief look at most of the buildings featured in this reading, noting the more interesting features. The Alumni Courtyard is a particularly interesting area as it has deep and somewhat disturbing historical roots. During investigation of the site artifacts such as glass and china were found, but also remains of humans and animals. Over 100 prisoners were executed and buried on the site up to 1924, which is a nice thought while you eat lunch at the new pop up cafes there now. The Magistrates’ Court – now Building 20 – is of course historically significant, and acting as an architectural landmark on the corner of Russell and LaTrobe Street. It acted as the Magistrates’ Court up until 1994, very recently. The building that now stands in it’s place was designed by George Austin, with a Romanesque design that echoed the solidity and power shown in Building 1 and the Gaol tucked away behind it, an attempt to continue the tradition of the strong looking British establishment.
Hibernian Hall – now Storey Hall, or Building 16 – seems to have some of the most colourful history. Beginning as ‘old fashioned’ when it was built in the late 19th century, it had it’s overhaul in the mid 20th Century, late 1950’s. In it’s original iteration it housed Melbourne’s Catholic community at first, but became a place for events such as the Australasian Wrestling Championships, a cinema, a Guild Hall, and the Women’s Political Association during World War I. It’s current iteration is host to a vibrant facade that references it’s historical roots; green for the Irish Catholics, and purple, green & grey for the Women’s Political Group.
Taking a look at Building 15, I must say I was a little underwhelmed by the coverage of it. It is a very simple building built for the simple purpose of supporting the war effort during the early 1940’s. The building housed workshops for aeronautical engineering, woodworking, dynamics testing laboratories (in regards to engines), and even a wind tunnel. Now however it houses research centres; offices and a modern stairwell hat leads to an access bridge to buildings on Bowen Street.

Studio Talk – Martyn Hook

Dean of the School of Media and Communication Martyn Hook spent a class giving us a professional look at places and space, which was really interesting. He covered quite a lot of ideas over the class, but began with talking about how he defines the difference between Space and Place. He explained that Space has dimension, material, and a kind of authorial intent from the architect or designer. Space is the physical area that is designed for a particular purpose with material limitations in mind. He explained that Place is the ‘activation’ of a Space; the inhabitation of a Space and it’s intent being realised by the inhabitants, and therefore both Space and Place work with one another and are not mutually exclusive.
On a tangent he explained a set of people who call themselves ‘Placemakers’ who approach city councils in an attempt to create Places, but not necessarily create the Spaces required. He also talked briefly about the history of settlers in Australia and their encounters with the native people when establishing colonies or cities, and how Aboriginal people see themselves as a part of the land and so don’t separate themselves from the material Spaces we conceive.
He then focused on the idea of the City. He suggests that any City cannot truly be finished, and this is one of it’s defining characteristics. He explained that Cities are constantly growing and so don’t have concrete boundaries as such. He also explained that the idea of the City is relatively new, and that a lot of modern Cities are not designed with a single central district in mind. In regards to Australia he pointed out that 94% of the Australian population is urbanised, that is, the majority of the population lives in urbanised areas rather than rural areas, compared to countries such as China where only around 60% of the population inhabit Urbanised areas.
One of his later points in regards to Melbourne specifically was that of Federation Square, an open, public space that has often been used as a Space for public speaking and protest. He explained that this kind of design is one that is Democratic, and that even RMIT, as a campus that is open to the public, is likewise a very democratic and fluid one that echoes Melbourne’s layout.

Melbourne Museum Visit

This was the first time I have been to the Melbourne exhibition at the Museum, and the first time I had learned much about Melbourne’s history in depth. It was a lot bigger than I expected, and I only spent about an hour there but I’m sure I could have spent a lot longer reading all of the information available, of which there was a lot of. It starts with a brief – very brief in contrast to the history explored of the white settlers – look at Australia before colonists arrived. I sort of expected more in this part, but the exhibition looks at very recent history and the industrialisation of the city and surrounding areas more than broad timelines.
The information is shown less so through plaques with text – though there is some of this – and more through visual aids, props, and physical artifacts. While not the most prominent there are select digital sections such as the layered, interactive maps, isolated sound areas, televisions, and projections. There’s also a lot of newspaper clippings, archival photographs, and paintings and etchings that really help to give a full visualisation of the history being told. It was good to see some frank exploration of discrimination in recent history such as the immigration restrictions on the 20th Century.
There weren’t any sort of linear wayfinding techniques used, but the exhibition used landmark kind of design to mark different sections of the history, so you couldn’t really follow the history in one line as such but there were themed installation areas such as the old bookshop walkthrough area that act as tactile visual aids to convey the history.

Building 15 Audio Recording Exercise

Recording sounds in Building 15 was difficult, especially to invoke any particular kind of mood or idea, as the bulk of the building is best understood visually. I recorded a little context, that is, the music from the Alumni Courtyard which you can see from inside the building’s stairway. The new, glassy structure is very open and noisy, filled with the hissing of a air duct. The stairs are hard, and so walking on them makes footsteps sound rather loud. The lift in this part of the building is a nice change, however even the lift makes it’s own loud, screeching sounds. I walked out of here to record some open air and make my way into the other half of the building. In this part it’s even quieter and simplistic in terms of sound. As this building is mainly offices, the hallways are quiet to cater for this. There is plenty of carpet in the long hallways that absorb a decent amount of sound. One distinct sound though is the squealing of the wooden doors at the entrance, however rare it is for someone to come into the building, and this echoes through the stairwell.
In almost every way this part of the building reflects it’s roots as one of function and not of beauty, but it makes it a little dull to observe in that way. The newer part is a lot more pleasing to look at, but offers very little as a soundscape as the loud air duct dampens a lot of the sound that occurs in it, hiding any nuances that might be there. Neither parts of the building have many moving parts, so the sounds certainly reflect it’s stationary nature.