Posts Tagged 'tour'

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.

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.

video tour


This virtual/video tour is lead by the Seattle city librarian and main supporter of the architectural project, Deborah L. Jacobs. Throughout the design and construction process Miss Jacobs was instrumental and a strong supporter of this innovative design. Intriguingly this representation is called a tour, implying an exploration or a visit around the building, where relations between spaces can be understood, but despite showing several images of both the exterior and the interior of the library, no coherent space-time continuity is illustrated, but rather different spaces are shown without almost any relational content, except for the information on which floor they are. Balance the lack of physical space continuity in this tour, there is an interesting interrelation between different mediums, such as photographs, diagrams, facts described and even a direct quote of the review by the New York Times architectural critic, Herbert Muschamp (also in this blog). Also significant in the context of our seminar, and explained in this tour, is the combination of print media, digital media and technology in this library, where books are tagged with RFID tags, and most processes are automated. Notoriously some detractors of the library criticize the abundance of computers in the children’s area. For these critics, children already have too many digital distractions in their life, and in a library should be focusing on encouraging children to read and use print material. This discussion is associated with the issue of different modes of perception, already debated in our seminar, where digital technology prompts a new mode of perception and understanding of the world, or a different “wiring” of the brain, particularly for children immersed in this media from a very tender age. Also in this children’s area the transition between print and digital media is not seamless.