Sunday, 5 September 2010

Spaces in Flux @ MA Show | Chelsea College of Art & Design

Project Statement:

When the body is in motion, progressing through a space, our vision undergoes a continuous movement of shifting orientations and crossed viewpoints. This engagement and comprehension of the space is invisibly strung in snapshots within our perceptual apparatus. My concerns relate to investigating a tension between this embodied vision and the potential to achieve a liberated disembodied vision of the architectural surroundings. The medium of film is employed to seize these intangible paths, with fundamental emphasis concerning the spatial progression of the camera frame. Filmic mechanical devices, beyond merely the camera itself, are thus designed with the motion paths derived directly from the geometry and spatial qualities of the recorded architectural space.

Specifically, the research has engaged an understanding of spiralling vertical architectural interiors and therefore rotational tracking shots. This has concluded in the tailoring of a filming mechanism installed inside the central stairway void of Hurst Point Lighthouse on the south coast of Hampshire. Descending the centre of the void, the mechanism’s rotational movements silently relate to the spatial poetics and specific lighting characteristics of the Fresnel Lenses in the lantern room above and those of the neighbouring Needles Lighthouse, located 6km across the western approach to the Solent. The filmic outcome of the mechanism is a continuous single-sequence shot which has been framed and edited through the workings of the specific device. Abstracted from the architecture, a newly generated, disembodied spatial experience of the navigational tower is thus achieved. In order to install the captured filmic content back into an architectural understanding, the rotational screening technique projects the looped footage as a 360˚ continuous sweeping image around the space. The installation endeavours to intuitively immerse the viewer into the illusionary movement of the projection, embracing them into experiencing and living the contours and surfaces of the filmic space.

Wednesday, 21 July 2010

Projection Ideas

Attaching the projector to the filming mechanism in place of the camera

Achieving a way of rotating the image around the room - the problem with rotating a projector is that the wires will get twisted up. The images below show an idea of using a mirror situated at 45 degrees to the projector lens. The image is projected into the mirror and thus reflected on to the wall, therefore through rotating the mirror on its axis the image is projected around the room. There would also be a point where the image is projected through a piece of red perspex and therefore the image would have a red glow - relating back to the red sector in the lantern room.
I tested this method and although it did work, the image itself rotates as it is rotated around the room - an interesting effect but not quite sure its what I am trying to achieve.

Further research has been into using a portable projector which has a battery source built into it and therefore doesn't need to be plugged into the mains which eliminates the problem of the wires. Alternatively there is the option to use a rotating display unit with a slip ring.

Rotating Movements of the Filming Mechanism in Plan

The filming mechanism consists of two rotating elements which circle at different rates, in order to alter the camera position from the outside of the spiral in plan to a central radial position. In deciding the ratio of these two rotating elements, I shall relate it to the lighthouse I am filming within and the Needles lighthouse across the water filmed through the windows of Hurst Point Lighthouse. Each of these lighthouses have different light characteristics:





Therefore the two pulleys shall be in the ratio of 3 : 4 derived from the ratio of their light characteristic cycles of 15 seconds : 20 seconds)

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Filming Device: Quick mock-up model

In order to test my idea I put together a quick sketch model of the workings of the filming device from various scrap pieces I found around the workshop and at home. The model is mostly made from aluminium due to the light weight properties of the material. A cotton reel and homemade foam board wheel (of different sizes) are used as the pulleys, which are connected by a rubber band. A large single ratio motor gearbox is run off a 9V battery source, which puts the device into action. The camera would be affixed to the underside of the lower aluminium element at one end. The device would be suspended from the upper aluminium element.
Mock up model of the Filming Device

The film below shows the device in action. I have marked the location of the camera with a pink spot. If you watch the movements of this spot, it is noticeable that due to the two aluminium elements rotating at different speeds, the location of the pink spot / camera varies its location from being directly underneath the motor to being at the outermost reach from the centre, whilst in a spiral motion. Therefore giving a zooming effect of a camera whilst spiralling.

The mock up model in action

Watching the device in action it achieves the movements I am trying to captured. It is noticeable that the larger pulley wheel starts to tilt as the band slips up the shaft. Therefore it is going to be essential to make sure these elements remain horizontal. The speed of the motor is also too fast, this is noticeable in the camera footage captured below. I have since acquired a speed regulator. The speed could also be reduced if the size of the pulleys were increased. Counterweighting also needs to be addressed.

Footage captured by camera

Sunday, 11 July 2010

Filming Device: Working Drawings

Drawings for discussions with Brammer tomorrow...
Movement of the mechanism

Filming mechanism possible workings???

Filming mechanism plan

Friday, 9 July 2010

Filming Device: Complex Rotational Movement

The final filming mechanism which I have decided upon involves a series of complex rotating movements. The engineering of this device is going to be a challenge, but I am adamant to put it into action.

The design involves three triangular shaped elements (see drawing below), the top element is attached to a number of wires which are unwound from a pulley above (cantilevered from the stair). As the wires are unwound, the device descends through the space. Attached to this top element is another triangular shaped element below which rotates, and attached to this element is another element which also rotates at a different speed. A camera is attached to this bottom element and thus films the space as it descend along a random spiralling path around the void. There is a possibility to include a fixture which allows the camera to be positioned at different tilted angles, ie. so that the camera could be positioned looking upwards, downwards or horizontally.

The rotating/spiralling movements are in keeping with the spiral staircase and the idea of two rotating elements, which move at different speeds relates to the two lighthouses - Hurst Point and the Needles - each has a different light characteristic and in many lighthouses this is caused by the lenses rotating at different speeds. These two complex rotations combined allow the viewer (of the resulting film) to be transported down the spiralling staircase along a random path which thus zooms into and away from the staircase.

3D view
Plan of mechanism rotations (& camera field of view)
Elevation of mechanism

These complex movements are a tricky engineering challenge to solve, there are four key areas - balance, smooth rotation, two rotational speeds and rotational power.

- Balance
The weighting and rotation of the elements means that each element will need to be counterweighted to ensure balance across its three points. ie. the lowest element will need to be counterweighted at the other two points to balance for the weight of the camera. The middle element then needs to be counterweighted at the other two points to balance for the weight of the lowest element. Therefore there is a tricky task in ensuring that the device is kept as light as possible.

- Smooth Rotation
The elements need to rotate smoothly to ensure that the camera footage captured is not susceptible to bumps and jerkiness. This should be achieved through the use of bearings at each of the rotational points. Ideally bearings would be fixed below and above the triangular element. The trouble here is finding lightweight bearings, as these bearings often have cast iron casing.

- Two Rotational Speeds & Rotational Power
Each of the rotating triangular elements need to rotate at different speeds, this could possibly be achieved by the use of two different wheels of different sizes, with a belt linking them. They could both be powered by a single motor which could be mounted on the stable top element. This could if possible be battery powered, but if not it could be mains powered.
Filming mechanism detail elevation

Filming mechanism plan with belt detail

I am starting to make the device to try to solve all the possible problems and understand its movement and imposing forces. If I do manage to achieve this, below is a sketch of a possible way of installing the device, with a battery powered projector mounted on the duplicated device. Referring again to the two lighthouses across the water from each other. Between the camera and projector is a red sector which refers to the red sector within a lantern room of a lighthouse - notifying ships of danger. This is the in between point of the two devices, where camera meets projector and the feedback loop would get confused. In this installation I would however project the film captured within the lighthouse (if I am unable to film inside the lighthouse I would film inside the fire exit stairwell previously used).

Installation (camera on left, projector on right)

Wednesday, 30 June 2010

Hurst Point Lighthouse Films

Hurst Point Lighthouse Light

Hurst Point Lighthouse Light from Charlotte Greenleaf on Vimeo.

The first film in the series concerns the light characteristics of Hurst Point Lighthouse which I filmed within and the Needles Lighthouse which is in the distance (which was simulated with a flash light).

Hurst Point Lighthouse: 4 flashes every 15 seconds
Needles Lighthouse: 2 flashes every 20 seconds (Light 14 seconds, Eclipse 2 seconds, Light 2 seconds, Eclipse 2 seconds)

The film is in real time with the four flashes of Hurst Point occurring, then during the eclipse of the Hurst Point Lighthouse the light characteristics of the Needles are visible in the distance. Due to the fact that the light time cycle for Hurst Point is 15 seconds where as the Needles is 20 seconds, during this 1 minute film, the light characteristics of the Needles will be captured at altering times through its cycle.

The Needles Lighthouse is visible on the horizon upturned by the lens.

Hurst Point Lighthouse Spiral Staircase

This film concerns the spiral staircase which ascends the internal walls of the lighthouse up to the Service Room and Lantern Room. The captured footage has been manipulated to accentuate the circular form of the structure and the ascent in height. The staircase is the visual focus of the space and thus it becomes the focus of the film, duplicated, flipped and reversed to create a spiralling perspective of the space.

Hurst Point Lighthouse View

The film involves footage of the visible view from the Lantern Room over the seas the lamp of the lighthouse constantly guides vessels through. This is a continuous pan of the view through the lens, relating back to the rotational mechanisms of the lenses.

Hurst Point Lighthouse - The Needles Lighthouse

Hurst Point Lighthouse in the foreground and the Needles Lighthouse in the distance across the water

Roughly six kilometres from Hurst Point Lighthouse across the western approach to the Solent is the Needles Lighthouse just off the coast of the Isle of Wight. The Needles is situated at the end of a narrow chalky peninsula which descends to jagged rocks to guide ships entering the Solent.

Each of the lighthouses have a different specific light characteristic which are listed below in the specifications.

Hurst Point Lighthouse & Needles Lighthouse Specifications
Information from Trinity House website & Solar Navigator website

Inside Hurst Point Lighthouse

I returned to the spit the following day and finally the opportunity came for me to enter inside Hurst Point Lighthouse, with many thanks to Sean Crane who maintains the lighthouse in working order.

For some time now I had only viewed the lighthouse from its exterior, admiring its perfect white walls rising into the skies. Small glimpses through the key hole and windows and a photograph in the museum had hinted at a spiral staircase on the interior with a central void...

I wasn't let down, entering through the door and into the structure the echoes of our voices drew my eyes up to the height of the tower. Four small windows flooded the open interior with light as a narrow staircase circled up the walls, disappearing into the Service Room at the top.
In many other lighthouses the interior of the lighthouse serves as living space and is divided into rooms where the lighthouse keeper would have lived, at Hurst Point there are cottages separate to the structure and therefore the height of this impressive structure can be fully appreciated internally.

I slowly escalated the staircase, as my fear of vertigo emerged and then some how seemed to be overpowered by my elation at finally being able to ascend this structure. At the top of the staircase I appeared in the Service Room where there are two high intensity projectors which were installed in 1997, prompted by the growth in volume and diversity of traffic in the Needles Channel. 'The projectors, sited in the service room below the lantern of the High Lighthouse, provide an accurate system of red, green and white directional lights giving precise cut offs over narrow arcs of visibility which can be realigned in the event of movement of the Shingles Bank.' - Trinity House website

A vertical steel ladder lead up to the Lantern Room.

At the centre of the lantern room are three tiny 50 Watt Tungsten Halogen bulbs, surrounded by a huge first order Fresnel lens. The lens is separated into sectors of different focal length with a red sector provided by a strip on the lantern. The bulbs flash four times every fifteen seconds.
Large triangular storm panes are supported on diagonal metal Astragal bars, and provide a view across the western approaches to the Solent and Hurst Castle.

Hurst Spit

I returned to Hurst Spit for the day to try to gain further inspiration.

The spit has formed as a result of the prevailing southwesterly winds which have progressively moved the shingle of Christchurch Bay eastward by longshore drift from the supply cliffs of Highcliffe, Barton-on-Sea and Hordle Cliff. Gravel has gradually been lost from the end of the spit and it has moved landwards through a 'rollover' process. The spit has been largely rebuilt with dredged gravel to maintain its form and from fears the shingle ridge may permanently breach isolating the Hurst Castle and Hurst Point Lighthouse. However the end of the spit, where the lighthouse is located has been less effected by erosion and has been left in its natural condition.

(Further information: Hurst Spit - Barrier Beach of the West Solent article)

As well as accumulating gravel and pebbles, major shingle beaches can gather other floating objects from the water. Hurst spit is riddled with fishing nets, drift wood and other various washed up objects. Below is a series of objects I collected from the spit, including a piece of timber with the inscription PGS, a piece of fishing net, a rusty piece of metal and an extremely smooth pebble.
The wonders of the internet enabled me to track down the logo inscribed on the timber, and match it to PGS Group - Palettes Gestion Services. The timber was obviously part of a palette which has found its was to Hurst Spit.
PGS Group was founded in 1993 in Saint-Etienne-Du-Rouvray, France to repair pallets. Since, PGS Group has integrated new palette production into its services, expanding and becoming 'n°1 of new and reconditioned wood pallet in France and n°2 in Europe, and reaches the position of 1st pallet sawing producer.'
- Group PGS website

Washed up objects in the shingle

Building remains and drift wood

Exterior walls of Hurst Castle

Shingle drift prevention

The spit provides a wealth of inspiration for my final show with numerous different historical and geographical forms and washed up objects...

Tuesday, 29 June 2010


Following tutorial discussions and also the fact that I am not entirely satisfied that this device is achieving the fullest from my project intentions, site and potential, it's time to reflect upon the body of research and information I have amalgamated.

I have reached a point in my project over the last month where I have become so concerned with the mechanisms of how to achieve specific movements, that my project is in fear of dismissing a social or political programme. It has been mentioned that perhaps the mechanisms do not necessarily need to be particularly concerned with such agendas, however this could add strength and much needed direction to my project at this stage of the year.

There is the notion of the films allowing the viewer to experience a space in a way that we would otherwise not be able to, where the motion path is derived from the architecture of the space. Maybe it concerns a fantasy of flying, achieving an experience out of the ordinary, exaggerating the qualities of the space.

The idea of finally using the filming mechanism to film inside a lighthouse has been an ongoing intention throughout my project. I have previously been unsuccessful in gaining access to the interior space within various lighthouses. It is therefore crunch time in deciding whether or not this is going to be a viable space.

If it is not then perhaps I design a mechanism which when placed inside a different space, films in such a way to give the viewer an experience of being inside a fantasy lighthouse. I perhaps use my progress story of not being able to get access to the lighthouse and the inaccessibility of many lighthouses now as the reasoning behind the mechanism, where it allows the viewer access to the lighthouse that can otherwise not be entered? The machine gives someone the experience of the inaccessible.

Most importantly is that lighthouses have a great deal of Romanticism attached to them, for their isolated locations, and safety which so far has not been exploited. I need to build a real connection between the device I am building and the lighthouse, considering the poetics, fantasy, mystery, characteristics (lens, light etc) etc as well as its form.

I definitely would not consider changing my site at this stage and therefore consider a return to Hurst Spit to gain further inspiration to be of utmost importance, and hopefully I can go inside Hurst Point Lighthouse.

Filming Device: Bicycle Re-appropriation

I have been struggling with designing the mechanism and one idea was to limit myself to a series of building elements to give the design some parameters. If the filming mechanism is about allowing the viewer to experience space in a way you would otherwise not be able to, this idea involves taking a conventional method of transport and re-appropriating it into a mechanism which transports the viewer through space in an unconventional way. I could perhaps take apart a bicycle or a wheelchair and rebuild the elements into a filming mechanism.
In the same way that this idea could provide the mechanism with set elements, it could also be restrictive.

Filming Device: Leonardo Da Vinci inspired

I have been studying the inventions of Leonardo Da Vinci in order to try and work out the intended movements I need the filming mechanism to carry out. In particular I have been looking at his flying machines.

The camera movements I intend to achieve are as follows (also illustrated in a previous post):
  • Vertical descent / ascent
  • Spiralling motion incorporating zoom
  • Tilting
  • Speed control
Front Elevation

Side Elevation

3D Drawing


How the mechanism works:
There is a series of cogs and wheels at the top of the mechanism which would be attached to a platform / landing. As the outermost cog is turned by hand, it causes the large wheel to turn which in turn causes the reels to twist and thus the ropes of the mechanism are unwound, descending the camera through the space. The difference in diameter of the two reels which are attached to the wing in two places means that as the wing is lowered, the orientation of the wing lowers at a different rate and therefore the camera tilts with the orientation of the wing. I was hoping that his design would incorporate the twisting of the mechanism in a spiral descent, however unfortunately this would not be achieved with this set up.

Monday, 28 June 2010

'To The Lighthouse', Patrick Wolf

Monday, 14 June 2010

Filming Device Proposed Camera Angles

The following drawings propose how the path of the camera could zoom in and out of the space as it descends in a spiralling motion, as opposed to just falling on a single vertical axis. This path shows how the zoom function on a camera could actually be achieved by establishing it into the path of the cameras motion.
Zooming: Elevation of the camera frames captured along camera's path

Zooming: Plan of the camera frames captured along camera's path

The following drawings propose how the camera could have the ability to tilt whilst descending along its path.
Tilting: Elevation of the camera frames captured along camera's path
Tilting: Plan of the camera frames captured along camera's path

The reasoning behind these drawings is due to the importance of the device starting to have control over what the camera frame captures, and really starting to set up a strong relationship between the device and the architecture which it is recording.