Thursday, 11 March 2010


In addition to improving and trying to get the filming device in working order, I have been looking for a specific site for the device to be situated, so that the device can be tailored to the site. From previous experiments the possibility of the spiral being an expandable and retracting track which could be situated in numerous different height spaces is fairly slim, as the track needs to be sturdy enough to hold the weight of the camera into place as it descends.

I am creating a spiralling device and therefore I believe the site should have an influence on the shaping of the device and a reasoning as to why a space should be filmed through a spiralling, twisting, rotating method.

The idea of filming the descent down a spiral staircase comes immediately to mind. I therefore set about looking for various spiral staircases, however the problem being that many have a central fixed pole which each of the stairs branch off and therefore there is not a continuous void space for the camera to fit through.

The following images are of a spiral staircase in the Art Department of Winchester College:
The image shows a central pole which the stairs branch off meaning that there is no central void. Perhaps a device could span between the central pole and the handrail? So that the architecture controls the movement of the camera.

Within the offices of Architecture plb in Winchester, there is a central spiral staircase within the studios. The staircase has a central pole which only a few of the stairs are actually attached to. The space around the open and with lots of natural lighting.

I then went along to the Design Centre in Chelsea Harbour, as I had been informed of a spiral staircase descending the full height of one of the atriums.
The staircase spans between four floors, leading up to a large glass dome which floods light into the space. Down the centre of the spiral is a void with a pole running through it. The distance from the pole to the stairs is approximately 50-60 cm.

In trying to think of a space where the device should be used, I began to think about buildings which have circular forms and voids and vertically spiralling movement paths within, and hence the device being as intertwined in the architecture of the building as possible.

In my tutorial the suggestion of placing the device down a fireman's pole in a fire station came up. I visited a fire station which had a number of poles descending from holes in the ceiling. On a positive note, there is already vertical poles located in the space which the device could be tailored to, the logistics of being allowed to instal the device is another factor.

I was reminded of a previous visit to Cape Otway Lighthouse whilst on the South Coast of Australia.
Lighthouses are typically circular in plan and therefore many have spiral staircases to reach the height of the structure. Whilst searching on the internet I came across The Old Lighthouse, Dungeness, Kent. The lighthouse has previously been used as a film set and is available for hire (notable when considering the logistics of the task).

Images from The Old Lighthouse website

I shall make a visit to the lighthouse if I deem it to be a suitable and possible site to research further for the filmic installation.

I then began to consider whether I could incorporate the use of a windmill as the siting for the filming device. A windmill is circular in plan with verticality, but also has an extra factor of interest in the moving dynamics of the building's elements through the processes within. I am keen for the filming device I design to move dependent on gravity and not to be controlled and manipulated by a motor. Therefore a windmill is very fitting with this concept, with the workings of the milling processes being powered by the winds of the surrounding natural environment. The movement of the milling elements through the storeys of the building, enhance the reasoning behind the following of movement vertically though the structure. I visited Bursledon Windmill in Hampshire, which is a working mill, to research further into the possibilities of the windmill as a site.

... attach a camera to the sails?

Leaflet I received on visiting Bursledon Windmill

Great Spur Wheel from below

Great Spur Wheel


(I really like the addition of the sounds of the machines whilst they are moving and processing)

Inside the windmill, the wallower can be seen at the very top

Visiting the windmill was great and I spoke with Jo Lawler who works there about the possibilities of doing some further film work on location. It's a magnificent structure, where the whole building is a machine controlled by the outside environment. The movement of grain from the ground floor up to the very top, to then gradually descend into flour, through a whole series of rotating elements, is pretty impressive. My concern for using a device within the building is that it would be difficult to use the device I have previously designed within the mill as there is not really a continuous void up through the structure, and each of the floors have fairly low ceilings. Although I could see this as something which I tackle and design into my device. My other concern is that my project is primarily concerned with how we comprehend space as we move through it, therefore by taking the windmill as a site am I too much following the process of moving structures and milling, as opposed to a persons movement through space? I do however think that the windmill provides an interesting site, rich with inspiration to draw upon. I like the idea of how the building changes when it is stationary to when it moves and turns into a machine. There is also the aspect of the fact you walk into the mill on the ground floor and see the chutes filling up bags of flour, yet have to progress up though the building to understand the process.

Subsequently, I decided to go to Winchester City Mill to draw upon more inspiration into rotating machinery. It is a working flour mill, powered by the River Itchen which flows beneath the building. The mill was rebuilt in 1743 on a medeival mill site and was in use until the early 20th century. The National Trust have since restored the mill, and resumed grinding in 2004.
Image from leaflet I received on visiting the mill

' The waterwheel is mounted on a heavy, horizontal, wooden axle which turns the 'Pit Wheel' - a large gear wheel with a cast iron frame and wooden teeth. The Pit Wheel engages with the smaller, cast iron 'Wallower' turning the drive through a right angle to rotate the vertical shaft. Mounted above the Wallower is the 'Great Spur Wheel', which also has wooden teeth, and this drives the millstone via the cast iron 'Stonenut'. The purpose of the gearing is to increase the speed of milling so that the millstone turns faster than the waterwheel. The 'Great Spur Wheel' also allowed mills to drive two or more sets of millstones from the same waterwheel.'
- Winchester City Mill leaflet, The National Trust

The lower floor where the River Itchen runs through the building powering the mill

Pit Wheel, Wallower and Great Spur Wheel


Wallower, Great Spur Wheel and Waterwheel

Waterwheel and River Itchen

On the ground floor above, the grain is flowed through the rotating millstones and turned into flour which is bagged up on the lower floor.

Grain entering into the milling process

Floor production on lower floor

The windmill and watermill have been really interesting working mechanisms to study and I can see the positivity in introducing them into my project some how. I need to make a decision whether they will act as possibly sites for the filming device, or be used as inspiration into the design of the device (rotating wheels, gears etc). My primary concern with using the mills as sites is that I need to consider whether this is deviating from my initial line of inquiry which concerned experiencing spaces in flux and how we comprehend spaces as we advance through them and how this experience can be enhanced. Discussions needed......!

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