Posts Tagged 'agent'

photo: interior “urban living room”

photo interior people

This photo appeared in the architectural journal, El Croquis as part of a mopnograph on Rem Koolhaas/OMA, where an extensive profile of this building is featured. It depicts the “urban living room” on SCL’s 3rd floor.

As you can see, the landscape orientation of the photo, spreading across two pages, focuses on a horizon where the glass skin meets the floor. Shot from a high angle (5th floor) and using an extremely wide-angle lens, as evidenced by the distortion in the foreground, this is an image of the building as landscape. People move through this landscape — their movement is evidenced also by distortion — but they are clearly not the subjects of this image. All of the dramatic diagonal lines lead the eye to a center where there are no people at all.

The dominant visual feature of the images is those diagonal lines, which cover almost the entire image and give the distinct impression of a net, as if a visual metaphor for a network, which is one of the dominant metaphors for society in the information age.

This image could also be said to express Bordieu’s explanation of “the true object of social science” which is not the individual, but the field. In this image, the individuals exist “as agents – not as biological individuals, actors, or subjects – who are socially constructed as active and acting in the field.” The field here being, graphically and dramatically, the library building itself.

There is further evidence of this conception of human individuals as agents in the field that is the building in the conceptual imagery and in the video-lecture by Joshua Prince-Ramus, the architect in charge of construction.

collage / 3-D wireframe: reading room

3D view

This image illustrates the space envisioned by the architectural team for the reading room on the 10th floor of the Seattle Central Library. This picture is in reality a collage of distinct elements: photographs of human figures in the foreground, a photograph of Elliot Bay in the background and the 3-D wireframe image of both the interior space and the surrounding buildings.

The focus of this representation is neither the space nor the people, but the view. This focus is reinforced by the contrast between the transparency of the book stacks and the opacity of the surrounding buildings, but also by the contrast between the neutral white color of the space and the vivacious blue tonality of the bay.

This image attempts to demonstrate the inherent rationality of the dislocation of the platforms in reaction to local conditions such as vistas and sunlight exposure. However, it is also appropriate to reflect on the positioning of the human figures in a manifest digital universe, as it seems to address the immersion of the human subject/body in virtual spaces. In this image the human subject seems to be occupying a place in flux, while only its own presence appears (on the surface) to remain stable and unaltered.

It is worth noting that none of the faces of the four people are visible, and none of them are, photographically speaking, in focus. If the view is indeed the subject of this shot, we could say that overall the images expresses the buildings relationship to that view, in which case the humans appear to be included only to demonstrate scale, or possibly as agents that enact the viewing relationship between the building and the bay. Although this does beg the question: why is the reading room the public room with, emphatically, the best view? Where should one’s eyes be, when reading, according to the logic of this “room?” It seems to imply that the view of this room has little regard for embodied, human, vision which cannot read and gaze at the view simultaneously.