Archive for the ‘Blogging’ Category
It’s gone relatively quiet here, because I’m now involved in other projects. You can watch our progress over at the Studio 9 wiki.
This blog has now reached a turning point. It was created last spring to record the processes that I went through as part of my Masters in Architecture dissertation. This week, the final text has been printed and bound, and is now with the staff at the University of Sheffield for marking. The project is, for now, completed.
As my supervisor suggested yesterday as I started rambling about other projects I’m interested in exploring, it’s time to take a break from research. I have the rest of the academic year’s design courses to concentrate on, first with the ongoing Live Project and then with the studio that will keep me occupied until next summer.
But this blog is going to continue. Nothing exists in a vacuum, so although the material that I’ll be posting here will probably begin to move away from comics, it will remain within the field of architecture and act as an ongoing journal of my own personal thoughts and readings related to my research and theoretical study. There are a number of interesting avenues that I want to explore, and the blog will be a place to test out ideas and open them to a wider audience. It would be foolish to forget about the head of steam that this page has built up, and I sincerely hope that there will continue to be something here for you to read and respond to.
So, watch this space… there’s so much more to come.
After almost nine months, the dissertation is done. I put the finishing touches to the 10,000 word text (and the 22,000 word appendices, which included the three interviews with Joost Swarte, Henk Döll and Ben Katchor) on Wednesday night, before taking two copies to be bound. One is being lovingly stitched into a deep red hardback cover by Sue Callaghan on Division Street in Sheffield, while the other is getting a much more mundane black plastic cover for the University of Sheffield Library. Both copies go in for marking on Tuesday.
A special foreward went into the dissertation explaining the role of this blog, and the project’s online presence. This is the first time that I’ve put so much energy into using the internet for recording my work, and I’m now very interested in following and developing the use of blogs in the academic world. As we speak, I’m involved in a live project which has its own blog and which has had almost 700 hits in less than two weeks. Blogs are perfect for solo or group projects which require some public face to discuss what’s going on and to solicit comments or opinions for participants, stakeholders or anyone who happens to be interested. My misfortune with bag handlers at Philadelphia Airport also means that I’ve appreciated the blog as a way of backing up the work, preserving the vital processes that lead to a finished academic text.
I’ll be uploading a compressed pdf of the dissertation itself in the next couple of days. A similar pdf will be added to the University of Sheffield School of Architecture’s digital archive.
Thanks for the continued support and interest of everyone who’s been following the project, and keep an eye on this blog as it develops with my own personal research projects.
For your information, from the Alternative Architectural Praxis blog…
Alternate Currents is a major international symposium which looks at alternative forms of architectural praxis. The symposium will present a range of ideas from around the world which propose new and reflective ways to conduct architectural practice. Many of the speakers start from a critical position with regard to the normative models of architectural practice and the values embedded in it. Whether from political, social, gender or theoretical standpoints, the speakers propose innovative ways of thinking about the future of architectural practice. The symposium is open to all and is particularly relevant to practitioners and students interested in alternative ways of operating.
The symposium will be held in Sheffield and runs from 10.00am on 26th November to 5.30pm on 27th November. There is no charge, but it will be necessary to register for the event. The symposium is part of an AHRC funded research project, Alternative Architectural Praxis, being conducted at the School of Architecture, University of Sheffield by Jeremy Till and Tatjana Schneider.
_Tessa Baird, Anna Holder, James Wakeford / London
_Jens Brandt / Copenhagen
_Carolyn Butterworth + Sam Vardy / Sheffield
_Jonathan Charley / Glasgow
_Prue Chiles + Leo Care, BDR / Sheffield
_Pedro Gadanho / Lisbon
_Emiliano Gandolfi / Rotterdam
_Mathias Heyden / Berlin
_Andreas Lang, public works / London
_Maria Lucia Malard / Belo Horizonte
_Ruth Morrow / Belfast
_Andreas Müller / Berlin
_Constantin Petcu, Doina Petrescu + Helen Stratford / Paris/Cambridge
_Jean-François Prost / Montreal
_Colin Ripley / Toronto
_Flora Samuel / Bath
_William Tozer / London
_MOM/ Belo Horizonte/Brazil
Apologies for not posting anything for a while; the project is progressing rapidly, and the final text will be submitted in just over two weeks time. I enjoyed an interesting conversation with Ben Katchor in New York City a few weeks ago, and after some time and space to think about the project (while piloting a white Mustang convertible around the American mid-west) it’s now time to get my head down and finish writing the damn thing.
I’ll bring you more news of the hard slog in the coming days. I’m now back in Sheffield and starting my courses here for the sixth and final year of my architectural education. It’s good to be back, but after all this time, the freshers look even younger than ever. I must be becoming part of the furniture.
What follows is an email posted by myself to the discussion list of the University of Florida Comics Studies programme earlier today:
I’ve been lurking for a few weeks on this list, and this is my first post – I’ll try to keep the introduction brief. I’m studying towards a Masters in Architecture at the University of Sheffield in the UK (http://www.shef.ac.uk/architecture). If all goes to plan, this will hopefully conclude in the summer of 2008. I’m also studying for one semester (via the Socrates-Erasmus programme) at the école nationale superieur d’architecture de Strasbourg in France.
My dissertation is provisionally titled ‘The Comic Architect’. It begins with the relatively established assertion that architecture is very poorly represented in the books, journals, magazines etc that are primarily used to promote and discuss it (see ‘This Is Not Architecture’, ed. by Kester Rattenbury for a good primer on this discussion). ‘Official’ photographs and images of buildings are usually made before the building is occupied by its intended users, and are usually sterile, timeless and people-less images that elevate the building from functional space to high art. There are even arguments for saying that some buildings (such as the Case Study Houses by Schulman and others in fifties California) were designed for their representation, since they were competing to be included in a popular magazine.
So, if architectural photography lacks time, narrative and a sense of character, can comic illustration techniques better represent architecture?
The dissertation will be submitted in November 2007, although I am extremely interested in taking it further, perhaps to a phd starting in 2008 or 2009. It will be an interdisciplinary study, but it will fundamentally attempt to examine the possibilities of one form of narrative representation in another context.
The project is being logged online at:
and I invite you to browse the blog and post comments wherever you feel the urge.
“Martha Kuhlman” <mkuhlman@______.edu> wrote:
2) I like the articles in MFS winter issue, and I’d be eager to hear some reactions to them. In particular, what do people think of the article on Chris Ware? (Comics Architecture, Multidimensionality, and Time by Thomas Bredehoft). If you don’t have this issue or article, I would be interested in your opinion of Daniel Raeburn’s book on Ware published by Yale. Anything at all on Ware would be interesting, in fact.
Firstly, to Martha Kuhlman, thanks for flagging up an article and journal that had escaped my attention. My university has access via MUSE, so I’ll read the article over the weekend, but I can cerftainly comment on Raeburn’s book. More extensive thoughts on the book and my own subsequent thinking re: my project are blogged here:
Raeburn writes with the impression of some authority, and to me one of the most interesting points is the parallel between music and comics.
“What you do with comics, essentially, is take pieces of experience and freeze them in time,” Ware says. “The moments are inert, lying there on the page in the same way that sheet music lies on the printed page. In music you breathe life into the composition by playing it. In comics you make the strip come alive by reading it, by experiencing it beat by beat as you would playing music…”
Daniel Raeburn, Chris Ware (Monographics)
New Haven: Yale University Press, 2004, p. 25
Note also how Ware carefully controls the pace at which we experience the passage of time by the use of ‘silent’ panels, or repeating images that slow the pace right down. There’s a review of Ware’s ‘Acme Novelty Library #17’ in the recent April 2007 issue of the Comics Journal by Adam Stephanides which makes a similar observation.
This combination of irregularity with regularity, producing an almost Mondrian-like effect, creates a sense of rhythm, much more so than in Jimmy Corrigan or [Acme Novelty Library] # 165. In contrast, a page showing Alice looking for the bathroom is divided into 12 equal-sized panels, giving a feeling of stasis, as do two pages divided into six equal-sized panels, depicting Alice’s homesick memories of her old home and best friend. In a way, issue # 17 is a return to Ware’s early short comics, which were often about rhythm as much as anything else, but Ware’s approach to rhythm is much more sophisticated than in those comics.
Adam Stephanides, The Comics Journal no. 282, April 2007.
For me, it’s this control of the underlying ‘rhythm’ of a comic than interests me… could architects better explain or describe their buildings using these techniques than in traditional plans and sections, or photographs and renderings?
Big news folks… “no words no action” (i.e. myself, wearing my dissertation hat) will be coming to the United States of America in September to conduct some primary research and to do an interview or two. I don’t want to go into the specifics, but all will be revealed here in due course. I’m both honoured and excited to have the chance to meet the people I’ll be meeting.
Meanwhile, if you’re going to be around in either of the following cities, please drop me a line…
10 – 16 September 2007: New York City, NY
17 – 28 September 2007: Chicago, IL
My special thanks go to: L.N. in NYC and A.M. in Chicago for graciously offering to accommodate me; the US Government for maintaining such a bankrupt US dollar; and US Airways for continuing to price trans-Atlantic flights in dollars, thereby allowing me nab an absolute bargain for my flights with my British credit card…
…for the prolonged absence, I’m swamped with work that has a much more immediate deadline than this project. Normal service will resume shortly.
Another connection was made over on the Comics Journal message board earlier this week, when Alex Buchet pointed me towards this short but very interesting article on Bernard Tschumi by the Canadian cartoonist and illustrator Stuart Immomen. Immomen provides a sound case for regarding some of Tschumi’s theoretical projects as out and out comics.
Probably conscious of the three figure asking price for a copy of Tschumi’s Manhattan Transcripts (1981), someone has snaffled the only copy of the book kept in the University of Sheffield library. I will attempt to hunt down another copy in the coming weeks to have a closer look.
In the last year or two, I have occasionally considered taking some baby steps from blogging into podcasting. It’s a new medium that I’m really interested in, and right now there’s some great stuff out there which embraces and fools around with everything you might consider sacred in audio broadcasting (Letter to America from Belfast, Northern Ireland, being one particularly surreal favourite of mine). However, issues to do with time, the amount of space on my hard drive and the way that I sound on tape has encouraged me not to. Luckily for me there are people out there who are much more talented that I and who have none of those issues, so it’s with much excitement that I found Inkstuds this week: it’s a weekly one hour radio show on CITR radio in British Columbia that’s also published online as a podcast.
The programme’s been on the air for a while now, and it’s great to browse the back catalogue of episodes to hear interviews with big name artists and even a few old friends. Well worth subscribing for the variety of interviewees…
A certain professor at the University of Sheffield once expressed the opinion that ‘blogging’ was a largely self-indulgent and arrogant medium in which to write.
To a certain extent, I hope he is correct. You can find out more about why I started this blog and why blogging for an academic project interests me on this page.