Posts Tagged '2D'

venice revisited

For several reasons, I have been consistently falling into daydreams about Venice in the past few weeks. One reason is the smell of warm weather which reminds of me the anticipation of going to Veneto last spring.  Another is a square two inch picture of a comforter laid on a window sill over a canal in Venice which I spotted while skimming a book for thesis. I immediately remembered that I had taken a picture across the same canal.  You can reach it by walking down a bright, wide but quiet street with a brick wall on one side and houses on the other. The street ends under a building next to the canal with no steps leading down to the water.

Left, picture from the book Collapsibles. I sat just beyond the picture on the right side of the canal across from the one-story high wall. Right, my photo of the one-story high wall.

Venice, despite its winding streets and consistent architecture, manages to remain distinct from street to street. In contrast, suburbia developers, who have constructed endless winding streets and incredibly consistent architecture, have created repetition and anonymity. (Maybe the new urbanists have done better?)  Venice succeeds in creating a sense of place and identity because it has much more variety than surburbia (obviously), not just in color or materials, but also (more importantly) in architectural forms/spaces. This is achieved through a lack of standardized street dimensions, organic growth, layers of uses, and layers of time amongst other things that I have yet to unravel.

I would love diagram/catalog Venice to dissect its spatial patterns, but that would be a self-torture as well. The question really is if I go back to Venice again (the dream…), how do I want to study it now that I have an intuitive grasp of it? What are the forms and patterns of Venice that be applied elsewhere and how does that translation happen? (I want the diagram of Venice somehow. This paragraph also makes me think that I have been brainwashed by MIT. Do I really need the diagram? I feel like there must be something that is between the diagram and J Wampler.)

In any case, another reason for Venice daydreaming is wanting to edit the photos from the trip using my new skills from darkroom. Darkroom printing has made me conscious of the level of manipulation and control possible in a photograph which in turn makes Photoshop more fun (partially because digital is so much faster). Also, I am curious about the emotional difference of a black and white photo and a color one.  Some experiments of color and b/w below and flickr for more.

It looks old and full of character in color, but in black and white it is battered and used up.

rainy to moody, dark, and mysterious

cute pool party to glamorous gathering

fashion and/or architecture

It is both frightening and exhilarating that after 6 continuous semesters under the constraints and demands architecture studio, we will next year be designing our thesis, an entity completely of our own ideas and obsessions. This fall we have started to define, research, and edit our interests, architectural and otherwise, into the beginnings of a thesis. Under the guidance of Yung Ho Chang, the head of the MIT architecture department, the thesis prep class has taken on a more architectural/physical angle than in recent years past. His approach has been a source of debate. In Yung Ho’s mind, a design thesis goes like this: define an architectural/material/physical question that interests you, then from the exploration of that architecture some greater idea, purpose, “world benefit” emerges. But some prefer the reverse: an idea that is realized through architecture. To me, the emphasis on physicality/materiality is a good and useful constraint that (hopefully) leads to more thoughtful design rather than the long, convoluted discourse that too often results in lukewarm architecture.

Perhaps I enjoy Yung Ho’s approach because the only constraint I gave myself at the beginning of the semester was to avoid any serious social, political, environmental, economic issue in my thesis and his assignments never asked me to put my ideas in a more ‘worldly’ context. Our first assignment was to define our thesis in three words: a critique on what exists (RESTRICTIVE), a physical material (SOFT), and one other word (ENERGY).  Explanation – My thesis questions whether building materials can be something besides the typical concrete, steel, glass, brick, wood. The almost universal use of ‘hard’ materials is restrictive to how we experience spaces and the kind of architecture we create. An alternative is textile or ’soft’ architecture which can provide a different way to think about space and also a new way to incorporate the technical needs (energy, ventilation, insulation) of a building and its users.

The turning point for my enthusiasm for my thesis was when Yung Ho suggested that fashion could be incorporated into my work somehow. Since then it has infused itself into all aspects of my thesis. For the first draft of our thesis proposal, we turned in a page with three words (above) and three phrases with three explanatory sentences as well as a page of sketches. Here are some excerpts:

1) Tool+ Method for initial research into our thesis
Re-stitching the Membrane – Can the fashion industry’s innovative use of textiles inspire architects to think beyond a thin membrane roof?


The idea is that I will actually create (scaled down) clothing that explores a variety forms. This is partially an architectural exploration into rethinking how ventilation, enclosure, energy amongst other things can be enhanced/reimagined with textiles, and partially a practical necessity to be familiar with sewing/patterning/(laser)cutting fabric.

2) Site for the building
Softscape/Hardscape – Hunts Point and Bruckner Avenue, Bronx, NY and/or Near Fordham University, Bronx, NY

The decision to site the building in the Bronx is completely arbitrary. It is driven solely by my desire to actually learn about the borough where I grew up but never knew. Both sites are near commercial centers in the Bronx, but the Fordham site would be an infill while Hunts Point is more free form. Perhaps both sites will be used as a way to explore the adaptability of a textile enclosure to different site conditions. Obviously siting in the Bronx brings up issues of contrast between softscape and hardscape and maybe issues of textiles as effective building security.

3) Program is architecture jargon for building use
House of Street Style – The popularity of low cost, well designed clothing from stores like H&M and the omnipresence of street style photo blogs have ‘democratized’ fashion and challenged notions of fashion as a top-down system.

The building has three uses: one part clothing exchange store, one part concept store, one part workshop.


The exchange store is in essence a thrift store, but people receive store credit for the clothes they bring in, so it is more of a barter system than a commercial store. The clothing would be curated to some extent, so that only the ones worth keeping are in the store (i.e. not Salvation Army, more Beacon's closet). The clothing collection would begin before the store opening and for the first week after opening, the clothes are displayed as an exhibit of Bronx style. Exchange happens afterwards.


The concept store is for a brand heavily worn by Bronx residents to publicize and get feedback for the newest lines of their clothing. They would also be the main financial source of the whole project (if it were real). Brands like North Face, Nike, Ecco, Adidas, Timberland etc. etc.


In the spirit of the innovative textile building, the workshop also teaches about working with interesting textiles and hopefully provide underprivileged aspiring fashion designers with skills that would be difficult to get elsewhere.

As much as I would love to dwell in the world of intersections between textiles, fashion, and architecture, it’s now time to do real research + cataloging and actually create these articles of architectural clothing I keep talking about. But on the blog, at least I can continue to dwell in this conceptual architecture/fashion world and talk about how Yung Ho completely floors me every week with his extensive knowledge of contemporary architecture, how I have come to have more appreciation for Rei Kuwakabo’s clothes, the mind-blowing book from MoCA’s exhibition Skin + Bones: Parallel Practices in Fashion and Architecture, and the pretty badass blog, Street Etiquette, about Bronx influenced style. To be totally honest, I could forget all the architecture and just do the fashion…..

dematerialization of fruit and other objects

Despite our constant complaining about the overwhelming quantity and pointlessness of MIT course requirements*, it is on occasion actually not a terrible thing. MIT, being a technical school, requires me to take a 12-unit lab class before I graduate (slight groan). So I opted out of the architecture-building tech lab with Les “is More” Norford which sounded only somewhat interesting and registered for Strobe Photography Lab in the electrical engineering/comp sci department instead. Had it not been for MIT requirements, I probably would have never gotten to around to taking this class and missed out on a long standing MIT tradition.

Strobe photography was largely developed and popularized by Doc Edgerton as a student and professor at MIT. The flash of the strobe is so short, on the order of a 75-250 nanoseconds, allowing us to use it to record extremely high speed events that are not discernible by the human eye in normal lighting. The main challenge is to get the strobe to trigger at the exact moment to capture what you want. Enough talk. Here are the images**.

mapping a balloon pop | synch and delay method
This is six different balloons popping with photos taken at different strobe flash delays. Camera: Nikon on 35mm b/w film

the process of things | multiflash strobe photography
Exposing the film to multiple strobe flashes to capture the process of an action. Shown here: a golf swing, and two bouncy balls dropped on top of each other (transfer of momentum). Camera: Nikon on 35mm b/w film.

milk drops and lighters | high speed video


This is recorded using a high speed video camera, not strobe. Frames were capture at a rate of 3000 frames/second with Phantom HSV recorder. The milk drop is shown here at every 20 frames or .007 seconds. The lighter ignition is shown at every 10 frames or .003 seconds. Hopefully, I’ll get these up in video form too!

bullets | audio triggered strobe
Bullets shot through playing cards, various fruits and peeps with a rifle. Strobe triggered with an audio sensor whose position was adjusted to capture the bullets in different positions. Camera: Nikon D200

shockwaves | schlieren and shadowgraph
For our group final project, we are taking on the ambitious task of imaging shockwaves produced by bullets and discharging capacitors when the sound barrier is broken. The images should be beautiful as long as we get the lighting to work which is proving much more challenging than we had thought. Point source lights! Columnated lights! Ack, I end up just listening to the engineers, but still what I’ve liked most about this class is the technical work that is involved. The images are just a satisfying by product of the calculations.

In a time when photography is so effortless, and oftentimes so careless and nonchalant, it is easy to forget that it was developed as a science. Photography is not only aesthetics, emotion, ideas or intuition; there is real precision, detail, and science in the way it works. It’s nice to be able to understand a bit of that technical side that’s actually quite beautiful.

*One of the things that makes MIT unique amongst colleges is its ability to endlessly generate systems for institute requirements and corresponding vocabulary for those requirements. For example, before I graduate from MIT, I am required to take all my 6 GIRs, 2 RESTs, quite a few HASS, two of which have to be CI-H, 3 of which have HASS-Ds that are from the same category of which there are 6 (be forewarned: not all HASS classes are HASS-Ds and not all classes that seem like HASS are actually HASS, but you can replace a level three language for one HASS-D), 2 CI-Ms, 12 units of lab, and a swim test. Is this gibberish? It is.

**All images were taken by Strobe 4 aka Broken Glass Disposal. Group members: N. Ristuccia, S. Cole, R. Teil, J. Li with help of C. Silcox.

[edit 07.09.09 | Strobe 4 its final project investigated Schlieren imagaing of shockwaves generated by discharging capacitors. Our website provides general theory behind Schlieren, as well as images, and Schlieren set up tips]

omg. fashion.

beginning-copyI first stepped foot in the “high fashion” world when I read the New York Times fashion magazine in 6th grad (hence my enduring loyalty that magazine). While I religiously cut out ads and editorials from the nytimes, the images of glamourous, look-at-me fashion world conflicted with the reality of living in the bronx as a 12 year old and spending 2 hours a day on a subway by yourself to school. In the city, clothing is camouflage. Dark colors, baggy pants and sweaters hide you from unwarranted attention and comments. On top of that, Old Navy and JCpenny were the most expensive clothing I ever got.

So you can imagine my shock and initial recoil when I first stepped onto the front lawn at St. Andrew’s for class pictures before my first Wednesday night dinner and was surrounded by a sea of pastels a la Lily Pulitzer and all sorts of vibrant colors. Not just the girls, but the guys too in their nantucket red pants, and/or their seersucker jakcets (I was wearing some black skirt and brown shirt. fashion faux pas? maybe and just as a side note, St. Andrew’s is a prep boarding school but completely unique among boarding schools, thanks to all wonderful headmaster Tad Roach.) In any case, I did not hold out with my dark colors for long. I eventually gave in to the sundressy, casual preppy, rolled up jeans, and mesh shorts with polo look that I still love.

Previous to inmexico, I kept a blogspot as a private-ish journal documenting my evolving thoughts on fashion, style, fashionable people etc. It was a receptacle for images of fashionable people and fashion week that inspired me as a I slowly ventured out of my jeans, sweatshirt, and rainbows comfort zone. Designers like Nicholas Ghesquiere (Balenciaga), Francisco Costa (Calvin Klein), Oliver Theyskens (Rochas), Veronica Etro and photographer Scott Schumann (The Sartorialist) were frequently mentioned on that blog and have become the foundations of how I understand the fit, proportions, and possibilities of clothing.

The importance and place for fashion in my life is still unclear to me. It seems to me that I spend way too much time thinking about it, talking about it, looking at it, and buying it for it to just be nothing. It is still a dream/far off fantasy to work for a fashion magazine at some point in my life. Hmmmm. Maybe.

[photocredits:, vanity fair, vogue, nytimes, blue crush, papparazzi]

arial bold

sort of looks like helvetica.

Two very simple publicity posters I recently made for Rune, MIT’s literary journal. The first is a bit of a knockoff of Dia Beacon’s cafe napkins and the second was inspired by a  m&m paris poster though nowhere close to their complexity.

Thoughts, criticicms, and possibilities are most welcome.

Rune Poster 1Rune Poster 2

photoshop silliness

It started off as an ambitious idea of working on portfolio over winter break. It turned into an attempt to sum up my year in a jumble of images. Images of people I met, stuff I helped make, things that inspired me, cities, mountains, and woods that I loved. The result is an incohesive collage that is hilarious only to me.

A brief tour through what was once an elevation of a community arts center and now a billboard for displaying pictures of my life. As you can see famous architects and former studio TAs have taken over the balconies of the building (along with Harriet, Renee, and Jack the dog), meanwhile a caravan of camel scale figures en route to their makeshift shelters ascend the ventilator building on a series of ramps made of leaves. West of building is San Francisco, Yosemite, and the Grand Canyon. At the center, Arquitectonica buildings dominate the landscape as Rebecca and I jump for joy because we’re finally done with those elevations. On the east side, Liz(a) and I dance in Delaware woods, our studio apparently in New York points to our sites, as Ira snaps pictures of the city or beautiful models (it’s unclear which).

Obviously, only a tiny fraction of my year is represented here (that faction being the one I could easily find going through my friends’ facebook albums). The whole other part consists of hours spent in studio many of them laughing, reading the new yorker, summer romances, running, polding, journeys to toscanini’s for russian caravan tea, not enough sleep, writing, stress, blogs, daydreams, music, too much time on facebook, champions league and euro 08, eating expensive food, being young and relatively carefree. In retrospect, it was fun.

[Photo Credits: Tiffany, Jasmin, Liz, Ruifeng, Rebecca. Others Credits: Anna – junk models, Jack – lasercutting camel figures, Arquitectonica]

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