Archive for the ‘Tutorials’ 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.

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.

During my visit to Sheffield the week before last, I was able to squeeze in a brief tutorial with my supervisor, Renata Tyszczuk. Out of the conversation come a number of new themes and directions which will hopefully be picked up on in this blog and in my studies as the project progresses.

> wit: William Hogarth’s morality tales are loaded with subtle visual humour and wit. So too are the cartoons of Joost Swaarte. For an example, look above at two of Swarte’s drawings for the Toneelschuur Theatre. The people standing by the staircase are wearing bizarre metre-tall hats. And in the photo on the right, a dog is drinking an espresso on a radiator. Have you ever seen an architect drawn a building with this subtle passing wit? Where does this come from, and does wit have a place in the visual depiction of architecture?

> time and space: I think that I have already said this before in almost as many words, but it seems worthwhile to clarify it more openly. Comics generally always offer a precise depiction of time and space as two combined elements. Whereas there is no apparent distinction or separation between the two in comics, there is in architecture. Architecture is frequently taught, presented and discussed as a practice that creates and manipulates space alone. Time is dismissed because it is out of the control of the architect, and is most often symbolised visually in depictions of the built environment by dirtiness,and erosion. Some background reading on the subject of space is needed, most notably on its cultural separation from time by those who depict it. I have been directed to Doreen Massey on this topic.

> the complicity of the reader: quite simply, the reader of a comic strip is made complicit in the story by the involvement that comes from reading the story. This becomes especially interesting with artists such as Ben Katchor, whose work I’ve been reading lately, where protagists act as both storytellers and representatives of the reader in the story. Can architecture be presented in a similarly complicit manner?

> the ancestors of the coupe anatomique: without trying to condense a history of the comic strip into the introduction of a 15,000 thesis, it would be helpful for me to trace the images that lead to the creation of the coupe anatomique that I studied earlier in the project. The allegorical subjects of Renaissance frescoes, for instance, which would be a refreshing trip down memory lane to my A-level art history studies.

All this, and much more, coming soon. I have a number of particularly demanding studio deadlines to attend to between now and the end of June, but any slack in this blog will be picked up in the summer, when I relocate to London and begin the main phase of concerted research writing for the dissertation.

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Hello from rural Norfolk, in the green and pleasant countryside of East Anglia. My delayed Easter vacation has allowed me to return to my family home, and to a landscape of multi-coloured heaths, punctuated by gnarled trees and thick forests. Villages here are built of brick and flint, and the occasional round towered medieval church pokes up above the generally flat landscape.

My apologies to regular readers to the prolonged silence on this blog: I’ve been occupied with other less stimulating things (releasing the inner white van man in me, fixing beligerant digital telephones and filing my Canadian income taxes, for example). Until I’m able to blog some more, I’ll leave you with this image – Theatre cross-section from 1996 by Joost Swarte. It’s included in the excellent study of the Toneelschuur Theatre by Jan Tromp, Henk Doll and Charles Reichblum, which was delivered to me just before I left Strasbourg. I’ll write some more about this book soon, because the Toneelschuur is looking to be an increasingly important building for my project; perhaps the only example of a building designed by a cartoonist. Other cartoonists have drawn buildings in sections, but I can’t remember one who has drawn one with the same appreciation of the hierachy and relationship of spaces in a building of such specific purpose. It’s also drawn with a humour that make similar architects’ sections so dull by comparison.

Going on retreat

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A big thank you to everyone who has contributed to the ongoing research for this project. The bizarre French academic system is giving me my ‘Easter’ holiday one week after Easter. So, with my TGV and Eurostar tickets in hand, I’m about to head off for a couple of days peace and quiet back home in England. I’ll be taking advantage of this break to prepare the first chapter submission of my dissertation for Monday 23 April, which will draw on all of the work and reading that I’ve done so far. The chapter will not necessarily be suggestive of the final submission, and I’m under no obligation to actually include it in the finished thesis. It will, however, give me a chance to chew the cud and produce a concerted statement of intent for the rest of the dissertation.

I’ll post the chapter here in pdf format on or around 23 April. Thanks again to everyone who’s helped me out, I hope you continue to find more of interest here in the coming months.

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.

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Click on the thumbnails to see notes from today’s initial tutorial. The first tentative steps to building an initial reading list.




  • ABOUT THE PROJECT

    "no words no action" was an experiment in academic blogging. The blog recorded the progress of reading, research and investigations that lead to a Masters in Architecture dissertation at the University of Sheffield in autumn 2007. You can find out more about the author's interest in blogging here.

    To find out more about the thesis, download the original dissertation proposal (pdf format) from February 2007 or the semi-formal first chapter (pdf format) from April 2007.

    Further research projects are in the works, and their dependence on human interaction and networking suggests more blogging will be inevitable when the time comes.


  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    At the time that this blog was created, James Benedict Brown was a fifth year Masters of Architecture student at the University of Sheffield. James' personal blog is here.

    James graduated in 2008 and now lives and works in Glasgow.


  • ABOUT THE TUTOR

    This project was supervised by Renata Tyszczuk at the University of Sheffield


  • ABOUT YOU

    If you want to correct me on something, offer an opinion on a particular artist or building, or if you'd like to recommend someone or something to find out about, please feel free to leave a comment. Just click on 'Comments' under the headline of the relevant post...


  • BOOKSHELF

    Click here to browse James' bookshelf, and to purchase books being used in this project.


  • CONFERENCE DIARY

    I've managed to miss almost half a dozen compelling conferences around the world so far this year, simply because I have no (more) money to travel and no time to escape my studies in Strasbourg and Sheffield. However, if I had a magic plane ticket and plenty of time, here's my selection of essential conferences to attend. Hopefully I'll be there for more of them next year... click here for the diary (updated every time I miss another one).


  • NOTE

    All images are used for illustrative purposes only, and the copyright remains with the artist and/or creator. Please contact me if I have misappropriated an image or incorrectly credited it. Thanks... JBB


  • SOME RIGHTS RESERVED

    Creative Commons License
    The content of this blog is licenced under a Creative Commons Licence.


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    • 40,247 unique hits recorded