Category: The Idea

Version #16

Motion lapse uses a photographic tool that records stereoscopic, fish eye, motion activated images in plan view of the center of Rapson Hall courtyard. I built this tool to interrogate photography’s ability to inform architectural design. The tool has recorded over 160,000 photographs in the last seven months. I have used the photographs an informant of activity and light patterns, as a sketch modeling method and as a driver for 3-D form. Photography is an architectural tool that can represent compressed time, movement, change and 3-D form.

Version #15

Ephemeral modeling enables architects to transform occupant needs into full scale, interactive, four dimensional experiences and rapidly iterate design ideas.

This photographic tool compresses the duration of a design experience into one glimpse of a space.

untangling thoughts

Throughout this project I have struggled to explain my ideas. This is another attempt to clarify this project, its relevance to the field of architecture and its assumptions.

second review interim report

Version #14

I created a photographic tool that records ephemeral models. Ephemeral modeling focuses on the experience of space by engaging the designer in a full scale kinesthetic exercise.

Ephemeral modeling and the photographic method of blended photography are contributions to the field of architecture because they put haptic, full scale tools in a designer’s hands and force them to inhabit the space they are designing.

from camera to model

I made models out of illuminated materials, time and blended photography. I have been making them as a test of a photographic tool I made to understand an architectural space. I thought of the idea for this tool last summer but I didn’t know how to build it. I spoke about it with my dad and he built it. None of this would have been possible without his help. The tool consists of a digital camera with a fisheye lens, a motion sensor and an Arduino.

Nikon D200 motion lapse camera set up

camera set up

The camera is set to respond to motion. If the sensor detects motion it signals the Arduino to run the following program:


  1. pause one second
  2. trigger the shutter and make one photograph
  3. pause three seconds
  4. trigger the shutter and make one photograph
  5. pause three seconds
  6. trigger the shutter and make one photograph
  7. pause three seconds
  8. trigger the shutter and make one photograph
  9. pause three seconds
  10. trigger the shutter and make one photograph

If the sensor still senses motion the program is repeated. If not, the camera stops taking photographs. The camera has been running since November 21, 2010. Between then and March 1, 2011 the camera was only triggered between 7:00 a.m. and 7:00 p.m. The sensor was located on a column about 25 feet from the camera. On March 1, 2011 I removed that restriction and moved the sensor closer to the camera.

The result of this experiment has been over 100,000 photographs of the same view. Until March 13, 2011 I was observing activity the camera captured. I used the auto blend function in Adobe Photoshop to merge multiple photographs together. The process of finding interesting packets of photographs, loading them into layers in Photoshop and auto blending them resulted in blends of activity.

On March 23, 2011 I decided to begin using light and time to explore ideas of space and transparency. The camera is in shutter speed priority mode and it is set to 1/15th of a second. That means that after dark the photographs are almost completely black. If there is a light on in the space below the camera it has a strong contrast with the surrounding area. I began by collecting light tools and moving them around the space. Knowing that I would blend the photographs together later helped me understand how to make models with simple illuminated materials and time.

individual frames

individual frames

blended photograph

blended photograph

inverted, blended model

inverted, blended model

Version #13

I built a photographic tool to transform our understanding of a space. I will use it to test architectural ideas.

What is the panopticon experiment?

I’ve been running this photography experiment in Rapson Hall courtyard for fifteen weeks. Here is a summary of the experiment and a design embryo.

What is the panopticon experiment? [PDF]

Version #12

I am studying Rapson Hall courtyard with motion triggered technology because I want to investigate how occupants can signal activity in order to help my audience understand how buildings can respond to and communicate with their occupants.

Version #11

I am studying motion lapse photography and projection in Rapson Hall courtyard because I want to investigate how projection can signal activity in order to help my audience understand how buildings can communicate with their occupants.

Version # 10

I am studying space with motion lapse photography because I want to observe how space affects activity in order to help my audience understand space conditions that attract people.

“What would Murat Germen make if his pictures were buildings?”

Thanks John.

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