Posts Tagged 'reading room'

audio tour

An 18 minute audio tour of Seattle’s Central Library warmly guided by Diana from the SPL represents the library in this instance. This audio tour was intended to be downloaded by patrons to their mp3 player and used while visiting the library. Despite the listener being guided by the sound, where the narrator frequently gives indications and directions to follow the predefined route, this representation is complemented by the library vertical map available at the entrances of the building on a small scale, and by the actual spaces of the library on a larger scale. Without these other elements, the audio recording loses its meaning. Therefore, we observe in it a resistance to the creation of a single bubble of privatized space inherent to the delivery system of this audio file in personal mobile sound system. This audio track attempts to engage the listener with other people by featuring several “encounters” with librarians on different places, who explain the resources available and the underlying concepts of the spaces. It also aims at engaging the listener with the physical spaces by encouraging the listeners to pause the sound recording and explore the spaces on their own, at their own pace, which is demonstrated by the discrepancy between the actual length of the track -18 minutes- and the expected length of the tour -between 30 and 40 minutes.

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flash / quicktime vr: virtual tour

virtual tour by rex
Click on the image to start the shockwave virtual tour conceived by OMA and Rex. To view this tour, you need Shockwave installed on your system and a 3D-capable video card. We recommend a card of 64 MB or more to view the movies in high resolution. A video card with less memory requires a bit more loading time and will result in lower resolution.

This representation can best be described as a virtual tour, which using as basis several photographs taken from the same point but towards different positions are combined together in a three dimensional space by the computer, allowing the viewer to look into all possible directions from a given point. This system attempts to recreate an immersive perception of interior and exterior spaces, enhanced by positional information supplied on the x,y coordinate by the plan and on the z coordinate by the cross section. Furthermore, the viewer has the possibility to move through space (from point to point), reflecting the spatial relationship between these points. Therefore, it is possible to meander through all the public spaces of the library, since the staff floor and the headquarters floor are not represented. Despite the wide coverage of this building by the popular and professional media, or perhaps because of it, photographs of the 2nd and 11th floor spaces are not widely available, and are normally physically not accessible to the public. Similar to Intel’s processors equipped with a Protected Mode, the operating system of this building, where staff meets and controls the library is protected from the users, providing a zone of privacy contrasting to the publicity of other media saturated spaces.

video: sign-language tour

This video shows the surprising way the Seattle Central Library can be represented by sign language. Due to the specific nature of the language employed, there is a fragmented conversation between subject and object, as the building and the narrator do not appear simultaneously on screen.

Even though this representation (and sign language itself) uses only the visual medium, it is far from limited. The difference between oral and sign language is comparable to print and digital formats, where one is sequential and linear (print and oral language) and the other has the potential for simultaneous information transmission (digital and sign language). In sign language information can be loaded into several channels and expressed simultaneously, by the specific motion of the hand, body posture and facial expression. This inherent potential of sign language is widely used throughout this tour, as the narrator expresses his views and experiences on the library while guiding the audience through the main public spaces: the living room, the reading room and the long escalator in between.

Following Lev Manovich’s description of a database as both “a structured collection of data” and a collection of “choices from which narrative is constructed” — we can consider the library as the paradigm from which this individual has constructed his personal narrative, his “tour” of the space.

Realizing the innumerable experiential choices that the library presents to any given individual, and also the innumerable choices available in representing an experience of the library with a video camera – it is particularly worth noting that this individual consistently frames himself, not the building, in the foreground and in medium close-up. This narrative’s purpose is not to document the building but to document this fellow’s emphatically embodied experience in and of it.

The personal videos, photos and blog posts, as narratives, stand in stark contrast to the conceptual documents, which concern themselves not with individuals but with operational functions and processes, in which individuals might be supposed to be agents, if supposed at all.

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.