ARCH 4101/4102/5101/5116/7113
Buffalo Image Scapes

view of a city through leaves of a tree

  • Instructor: John Zissovici
  • Time: M, W, F 12:20–4:25 p.m.
  • Location: TBA
  • Credits: 6

"I say therefore that likeness or thin shapes Are sent out from the surface of things Which we must call as it were their look or bark Because the image bears the look and shape Of the body from which it came, as it floats in the air."

"We, the things and their image, are all one."

~ T. Lucretius, De Rerum Natura, first century B.C.

"Technical images are phantoms that can give the world, and us, meaning."

~ Vilém Flusser

The studio will investigate the vast new 'nature' of image flows emanating from networked communication devices on social media, to propose new networks of recreational space and forms of mass participation. We will exploit innovations in visualization, like augmented reality, to s[t]imulate new forms of mediated recreational experiences, and test them in the popular imagination at their intersection with Olmsted's ideas of 'nature' and landscape.

Frederick Law Olmsted's 1868 comprehensive plan of a distributed system of parks and connecting parkways for a rapidly urbanizing Buffalo, was one of America's earliest and most comprehensive proposals for organizing recreational activity for a city's rapidly growing population. On offer in these dispersed reservations for 'nature' were Olmsted's artificially constructed 'natural' landscapes with their carefully orchestrated scenic views, later to be memorialized and used to promote the wonders of Buffalo through postcards. This coincided with the time when the railroad opened up the American west, and its natural wonders to people's gaze, if not directly, then through the torrent of photographs of spectacular landscapes that flowed east to decorate people's homes. Ideas of landscape have a long history of being inextricably linked to images. The plan's various components are distributed within a map of the greater city of Buffalo. Framed with rounded corners, it presents a complete picture of the new urban life.

The current, and constantly updated, 'complete picture of urban life' is the virtual city, crowd-sourced to an ever-greater extent from its users' cameras, and assembled into a continuous surface city. We will start by critically examining this other 'landscape' as a technical and social construct, rather than neutral "information" and open it up to reappropriation by its citizens.

The studio will make several visits to Buffalo.

View a PDF of this class description.


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