STRATIFICATION of VISION

Post 663  –by Gautam Shah   (Lecture series: Space Perception’ -Article-II of 15).

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One of the most important functions of architectural openings is the composition of vision. And the fascinating aspect of the visual makeup, inward or outward, is the stratification of the view. The stratification is circumstantial, intentional or accidental.

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The view of outside or inside gains different dimension depending on how far or close, one is from the picture plane (face of the opening), what is covered within the nominal cone of vision, and the postural-gestural movements of the head and body to scan the view. Architectonic elements also mask, frame and filter the view.

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port hole

Regular architectural openings, and incidental ones like the crevices or holes, are effective when the surfaces like wall or roof are very extensive. Openings arouse curiosity to discover the realm on the other side. Windows, can be enlarged or reduced in size to regulate the scope of vision, but doors cannot be modified due to the basic anthropometric requirements. For visual makeup openings are transgressed outward and inward, through the floor or roof.

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Low Level Window

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Window in glass floor

The mechanics of vision depend on several factors, such as: a vision cones, extent of the framing element, sill and lintel level, shading devices, depth of opening, design or configuration, quality of glazing, level of maintenance, differences of illumination between outside and inside, amount of the glare, treatments on internal and external faces of openings, quality of external surroundings, internal reflections, tasks, orientation, climatic conditions, illumination conditions, need for protection and privacy, etc.

The visual makeup also depends on the position of the viewer.

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Visual scope and depth of openings: A viewer deep inside, away from the opening, gets a nominal straight or horizontal view. But as one comes closer, the scope of vision increases. The visual makeup is surmounted by architectural elements like overhangs, horizontal fins, the sill height, height of the opening in comparison to eye level (in supine-sitting-or standing position) and depth of opening.

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Visual scope for clerestory openings: For a person positioned close to the plane of opening, if the sill level is above eye level, the range of visual scope is small. This scope becomes larger as one moves away from the plane of opening.

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Visual scope and the datum of floor: Tall buildings (multi-storeyed) have several floors, each of which offers different vistas. For a person positioned, approximately as deep as the internal height of the floor, the visual scape is nearly horizontal. So at lower floor one sees street and surrounding activities, from mid floors the view consists of horizon consisting of tree or building tops, but on upper floors the view is of the horizon. In the second and third categories, at night additional flickering brightness from bottom up sources is very distractive, such as from the head light beams of moving vehicles, street lights, road-light signals, illumination or glow from hoardings and neighbouring buildings. These reflections fall on the ceilings and sometimes on the wall, but distort the interior visual effects.

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Surrounds of the openings, all four sides, jambs, sills, or bottom of the door-heads, alter the inward and outward vision scope. The sloped surfaces due to chamferring on the outward or inward faces, enlarged the perceptive size of the opening. It however made the perception depth ambiguous due to the foreshortening.

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Downward View Tracy_Caldwell_Dyson_in_Cupola_ISS

● The dividers or sub elements of openings, such as traceries, mullions, muntins, are primarily used as mid support in the frame or sash, and divide the glazing into smaller units. Early age glazing units were small but had fuzzy transparency and wavy patterns of making. These crude smaller units, however divided the view and made it bearable.

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Openings in moving vehicles offer dynamic scenery, where the objects could be both, stationary as well as moving. Uniformly shaped and sized objects, in nearby visual range seem more dynamic, but variegated objects in distance, seem to be less moving. These two fields when viewed through separated horizontal sections of an opening, pose distinctly different scenes. Such experiences are more common in carriages with additional windows at higher level.

Slit openings

Stratification is very important issue with openings of fixed glazing and shop front windows, both of which serve the function of a picture window that frames a scene or to displayed items.

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Fixed glazing windows show a scene consisting of several layers depending on the point of observation and floor datum. These layers, typically at lower section consist of ground level shrubs and movement of people and vehicles. At mid level the scene consists of mid-portion of trees (effects of breeze-wind) and perhaps deeper vista. At higher level, (the top lite) mainly sky and upper sections of very tall buildings (becoming impersonal due to greater inclination-distance) are seen. Of the three, the change is more pronounced at the lower section, and often curtained of with ‘parlour curtains’.

485028169_373693d56d_zShop front windows reflect the opposite side scene, in mainly two distinct strata. Upper part, if shadowed by solar inclination or overhang, has little reflection, but lower section has strong reflection (called ‘bounce-back’). Reflections at lower section do not allow view inside, unless interior portions have additional illumination.

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This is the II article (of intended 15) in series ‘Space Perception’ that will form a course of One semester.

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SPATIAL PRIVACY

Post 562 by Gautam Shah

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Space is a built or territorial expanse around a person. The personal measure for the expanse is the fathom (human size) and yet it is fathomless. The space is reached through sensorial affectations. The reach is finite, but with technological tools it can be stretched manifold. In recent years, technologies like satellite remote sensing, geo positioning, electronic enlargements, ‘seeing’ through energy facsimiles; have encroached our spatial domains. The invasion of our privacy occurs whether we are in built space or open territories. The invaders know that reach in space does not mean the capacity to own and control the depth.

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Layers for privacy of different levels > Street view of Faza Kenya House Wikipedia image

Spatial privacy encroachments affect our personal actions and our connections with other people, objects and environment. Very often such observance or data collection is not intentional but the same may be used for malicious interpretations. The spatial privacy is for a person to manage, but surveillance by others may be used for altering our actions and responses to other things in space.

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Surveillance alters freedom of action Wikipedia image

Privacy is related to location or position, tracing of movement routes, a micro moment capture of changes in posture-gesture, environmental and body functions (temperature, perspiration, metabolism, respiration, blood pressure etc.). These are imperceptible, and would not be noticed, but can be enhanced by technologies like slow motion capture, high resolution, and colour or energy imaging tools. Such processes occur without the person’s knowledge or awareness. Privacy is the right to act without surveillance. Surveillance alters action.

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Public spaces under surveillance Wikipedia image by Quevaal

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Aerial view of Osama Bin Laden Compound Abbottabad Pakistan by CIA

Privacy has many different interpretations. Spatial privacy for humans in built forms or open territories has been a concern for all designers. Designers consider privacy as an act of isolation by way of obscuration. Privacy means control over space occupation, time protraction, task execution and social interactions. The isolation from people, things and environment is achieved by controlling various sensorial perceptions and expressions. One may close the eyes, block the ears, pinch the nose, reduce the visibility by merging with the background, simplify variations in surroundings, control the exposure in time and space, camouflage with high contrast elements or exploit the barricading situations. Sense of privacy results from traumatic experiences and could be seen as inhibition to certain situations. This can be adjusted to by mental isolation or behavioural counseling.

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Confession in privacy Wikipedia image from ru.wikipedia

Privacy and Intimacy are closely related. Intimate conditions reflect interference by others, and so a threat to privacy. Though both, could be expressions of individualization or branding of unique personality. And, whenever these are compromised, one tries to distance from others, adjust the posture and reorient the self. To achieve privacy, a prime attempt is to find a ‘safe’ place in a domain. The safe place could be an anchor of spatial (architectural) element, a person or even a suitable environmental realm. Safe places are familiar, assuring, with a possibility of escape, or occluding. Safe places are transient in time, like a moving object does not allow clear perception. Privacy is perceived in company of a senior person, people of same sex and in a group consisting of both sexes. Environment offers privacy by reducing the clarity perception of the self and of other things.

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Privacy as expression of Individualization or Branding of unique personality Wikipedia image of Beyonce Knowle by Tony Duran

One requires many different types of privacy: Physical privacy -against someone making a close approach (touch or near approximations), Visual privacy -to limit others’ view of oneself, Audio privacy -insulation against being overheard and interference from background noise, and Olfactory privacy -that limits to reveal own physiological state or experiencing someone else such a state through hormones-odours. Other privacy parameters are, one tries to conceal the body temperature, breathing rate, heart beats, pulse rate, vibrations of the body, sweating and perspiration, as these reveal the inset fear.

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Privacy from distraction Wikipedia image of Michigan State University Libraries USA

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VISUAL PERCEPTION of MOVEMENTS

Post 395 — by Gautam Shah 

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We perceive objects that are in motion, and also perceive objects while we are moving.

Motion of an object is perceived in many ways:

1 When there are changes in the object itself,

2 when environment causes changes, such as in illumination level, angle and colour, and

3 when the context such as background and foreground change.

There are many other conditions where movement is perceived to have occurred, but in reality no change may have happened.

1. When there are changes in the object itself.

The process of apparent visual motion was realized when several pages with slight and progressive alterations were flapped, to experience the movement. Later a devices called zoetrope provided animated images ( zoetrope, -from Greek words, where zoe =life and tropos =turning). The Phenakistoscope (or phenakistiscope or phenakitiscope) was an image animation device that used a spinning disk of sequential images. The visual motion was also realized when two images shot at slightly distanced points, and seen through a ‘view master (1940). It created a stereoscopic 3-D image. A stereoscopic range finder uses two eyepieces and relies on the operator’s visual cortex to merge the two images into a single picture.

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Phenakistoscope Dance sequence

St George St St Augustine Florida stereoscopic view

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2. When the environment causes changes over an object.

Environmental factors such as light, air, etc. affect the visual perception of movements. Changes in illumination level, angle and colour are important aids for perception of motion. People do not perceive very slow movements such as shadows of sunlight or increasing-decreasing of brightness through a day. Such movements are however, inferred by remembering the previous condition. At a very high rate of change in illumination, the perception of an object becomes difficult. On a performance stage illumination level, angle and colour are continuously varied to reinforce the movement in dances. In a cinema the movement is enhanced by showing the moving object along with the moving shadows.

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Decorative series of lights are stationary or fixed to buildings, but due to their going off in a sequence for few seconds, creates an impression of movement. This movement is more enhanced when same series of lighting are fixed on merry-go-rounds like entertainment rides. In Indian cinema songs, and night clubs at other places, enhance the dancers’ movement by strobe lights.

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3. When the context such as background and foreground change one begins to perceive the change or movement. We register changes in things in some context. The context is provided by the familiar objects on the scene, by objects that remain consistent within the nominal field of vision, and by the object in the background that usually show lesser changes. A thing that is receding steadily and slowly, along a visual axial seems less changing, compared with a thing moving at slightly an angular axis. A luminous and stationary object, shrinking in size, seems receding.

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Foreground Background contrast Gustave Caillebotte Paris Street Rainy Day 1877

Background and foreground perception is a not a major problem for human eyes, as these can continuously and rapidly shift from one to another. But the same process in a Camera takes time for resetting by manual or automatic process. A far object can become dulled while attending a foreground entity. The differences, of visual and camera perception of foreground and background objects, are being solved on several fronts. In one process a camera lens is simulated as multiple eyes entity, that individual captures the scene, which ultimately are merged or morphed to form a composite image. In another feature the lens is endowed with scanning capacity of the eye that creates a composite image.

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