SEBASTIAN FATHI / MPHIL IN ARCHITECTURE AND URBAN DESIGN 2020-22
UNIVERSITY OF CAMBRIDGE
BLOG UPDATES (MOST RECENT FIRST)
October 14, 2021
Day 4 in Joshua Tree NP.
-Smaller models today (1.100 and 1.20). They don’t require you to walk that far away from the site datum for them to anamorphically resolve at the correct scale in front of you. Therefore they are a little easier to use.
-They also require Alex, my fieldwork assistant, to walk smaller distances to pace out where they ‘land’ on the site. See images of him holding a high vis wind sock up below, marking out the extents of the models and recording in plan where the extents are (via GPS). Therefore it is easier to visualise the extents (see an image of red string/line marking the distance between the extents as they landed on the site).
October 14, 2021
Day 3 in Joshua Tree NP. Some notes:
-Quite a few small dust devils today (small whirlwinds). They’re quite ghostly. One minute you’re working in a totally still environment, km’s from anybody, no noise, and then a rustle starts approaching. It’s odd hearing the sound of wind and seeing bushes move in the dust, but not feeling it at all.
-The shots in JT are all around one particular datum, predefined from studies in Cambridge. I had to shift that datum today, just for one of the shots, as the camera/shot location for the original datum location would have had me climb a mountain. Insights like this are important for the general thesis, but the photograph would have not been worth taking. It is easy to adjust for things like this, as my shot lists are defined in meter distances from a single GPS datum location (not multiple GPS locations for individual shots).
-Tomorrow I shall be starting on my smaller models.
October 13, 2021
Day 2 in Joshua Tree NP. Some notes:
-Since these sites were selected by an AI tool that uses satellite imagery to find similar proxy sites to the VLT site, it does not account for elevation data, just what is presented to the sat. JT is actually quite topographic vs the VLT site. It means the model gets anamorphically projected also in the vertical axis.
-Since I am at the start of this fieldwork I’m still a little green and therefore sometimes forget to take all the right photos despite having all sorts of method lists. No problem though, I still have a lot of data and I am remembering more and more.
-It is fortunate that there is a big layby for the campervan/base right in the middle of the site.
-I am making slight edits to shot locations if there are shrubs in the way of certain important sightlines. Important in the distinction between the physical world and the ocular world.
-The road that the satellite picked (this site) is actually not as straight as I imagined which makes the model overlay quite offset vs the road in some cases. This could be due to a difference in ‘bend perception’ between my eyes and the sat’s.
-Despite using f.22 on a 35mm lens, there is still a good deal of bokeh/blur on the model. Therefore when finding where the model lands (where it is projected to) there is a sort-of bokeh tolerance. Blurry model equals indeterminate model location within about 20m.
October 12, 2021
We are now in Joshua Tree where we will stay for one week (see timetable in the Fieldwork Plan). The desert is amazingly strange. It’s exactly what I’ve anticipated from planning, but on paper it’s absurdity was never quite graspable. It seems totally static, unchanging. The astonomers at the VLT require such connditions for their observations, and their data gathering techniques therefore remain static. The stasis is abundantly clear, even in these proxy desert environments that simulate the VLT environment. It’s also clear how the stasis comes all the way through to the design world- the desert is much like a render engine, drawing board or CAD space. Architect’s also require these spaces for their design development techniques. There is a desert-like thread that weaves through the ocularcentric world of astro-imaging and architecture that becomes ever more apparent. However, unlike a drawing board, the desert is habitable and therefore perceivably present. It is actually quite cold, especially in the shadows. The sunlight is not affected by clouds, but it is very hot if lingers on your skin and easily burns. It is windy – my survey gear gets blown a little but it’s no problem. There are snakes, scorpions, etc and therefore footing is important to get right. It gets dark in minutes and requires you to keep a close eye on the time, always. Moisture escapes quickly, despite regular drinking. The desert may be perfect for fields such as astro-imagine which require stasis, and this may reflect directly to the static worlds of architectural design spaces/tools, but the desert is a force, and proprioceptively impactful. It’s very beautiful. Below are some images from day one in JT.
September 25, 2021
Made it to Costa Rica where I will be staying for at least 14 days in order to legally enter the US on October 10 (UK ban). Will be finishing Essay 4 and conducting relevant thesis interviews during this time.
September 13, 2021
Last of the fieldwork method drawings have been made. These can be found on the Fieldwork Plan page. Essay 4 (Implementation) has been largely finalized and awaits further information that can be gathered during the away portion of fieldwork. LTWA and travel insurance have been received.
August 17, 2021
Everything, from Costa Rica to the US has been booked. Leave to work away applications submitted. We leave on Sept 24 2021. Until then, in terms of fieldwork, I’m organizing a few interviews for my time away, making drawings for my methods (for use on site, recording information etc), and dealing with Essay 4 (project implementation) which will draw on fieldwork. Since my fieldwork is late in the year (due to COVID vaccines and letting the deserts cool down), this essay is being templated in advance and will have relevant fieldwork information inserted just prior to its submission. Images will begin on this blog as soon as I’m on the plane.
June 25, 2021
The campervan has been booked. This will be our car/accommodation while in the US (with a few hostel stops). See here: https://www.escapecampervans.com/campervans/mavericks/. Flights and other accommodation is TBD, but will be booked within a few weeks. Final fieldwork documents (Leave to work away, etc) will be completed within a month. First round of funding has come through (Kettle’s Yard and Faculty Fieldwork Fund). Waiting on Darwin funding.
June 18, 2021
Fieldwork was originally scheduled for August 25 2021. My COVID vaccine second dose is scheduled for late August (as is my fieldwork assistant’s), and so fieldwork has been pushed back to September 25 2021. Full vaccination (according to the CDC) is required in order to skip a 7 day quarantine on arrival in the US.