Wednesday, January 28, 2009

OPUS 1.21.09-1.28.09


Webster’s dictionary defines a story as a “true or fictitious narrative, in prose or verse, designed to interest, amuse, or instruct the reader or hearer.” As designers, we are aware that every idea or design we compose tells a story in its own way. As with every story, designs contain plots, characters, settings, and themes. Each is interrelated, producing an aesthetically appealing and useful space. This week in our studio class, we were each assigned a fairytale to analyze and dissect to find the underlying themes that could potentially be used to generate a successful design. We also analyzed a Midsummer Night’s Dream by William Shakespeare on a shallow level. We found several “stories within a story”, touching on the lives and tales of the lovers, fairies, actors, and royalty. Designers draw from our own stories, other’s stories, and experiences as inspiration to create and leave our own legacy. 


A cycle is any complete round or series of occurrences that repeats or is repeated over a period of time. A cycle can occur in many forms – social, cultural, philosophical, environmental, etc. Fashion cycles occur over decades, different fashions coming in and out of style. Architecture takes the same form. There are shorter cycles in the world, the cycle of the sun and moon for example. The earth turns on its axis in a perfect phase that allows us to view the sun and moon during an even interval of time each day. The nautilus shell below represents a cycle translated into a story. Over time, the shell was constructed by a natural process that carefully designed this structure as a aesthetically appealing and useful shelter for its resident. 

 Roth, Leland M. Understanding Architecture Introduction – Architecture, the unavoidable art P. 2 


Translation somewhat intertwines with Cycle in an apparent manner. Cycles translate over time, and though it remains a cycle, minor things might alter. Translation is the rendering or conversion of something into a more coherent and appropriate fashion. Translation allows us to transform our designs from simple ideas into a broad range of conceptual proposals. The image below shows a butterfly completing the transformation into a new life as a new creature. This too happens with design. It transforms and converges into something new and more ideal - a more "beautiful creation."


I consider an artifact as anything that withstands the test of time, and yet still contains a certain level of visual delight. An artifact, to me, can be a physical structure of some means, or a verbal representation of something. Stories can also be artifacts in their own way. They have been passed down orally through generations and Translated through time, but still contain their essential underlying theme. An artifact is a symbol of something with a great level of importance and symbolism or meaning to someone. Something of the past, that has a past itself – a story to accompany it. 


Mutiview is a term used to describe how an object, idea, or situation has several view points or perspectives. This week, I was able to see this idea conveyed through a Midsummer Night’s Dream. The “story within a story” concept allowed this task to become a bit easier as well. Shakespeare did an excellent job writing the script so that the emotions and thoughts of each character was evenly matched to its co-stars. The Lover’s story was shown through each of their eyes, allowing the viewer to empathize with each of them. The same was done through the fairies and actors. One could transport oneself into the shoes of both Titania and Oberon effectively as well as Nick Bottom. Having a multiview means looking at something in an ambiguous way. People perceive things differently, depending on their experiences and way of thinking. As in this inkblot, someone may see a white vase, but someone else may capture the image of two human facial profiles. 

Roth, Leland M. Understanding Architecture Visual Perception, P. 69 

Throughout this week, these prompts have gotten me to really consider all aspects of my life instead of simply the design techniques mentioned by my professors. I was able to learn to pull from other aspects of my life for inspiration. My religion plays a large role in my life, and I was able to draw several references from it. I also learned that themes can be drawn from fairytales and other stories or experiences people have encountered. Any small bit of a theme can go very far and be utilized in a way that will both enhance and expand my design techniques. I have also realized that everything in design is intertwined. Each of our prompts(stories, artifacts, translation, cycle, and multiview) were connected in some way, making each an important part of the other. A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare played a prominent role in my discoveries this week. It effectively covered each of the prompts in an easily coherent manner, as well as capturing the essence of each one in a way that sparked my interest and desire to learn more.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Timeline 425 BC-425 AD

Institutions 425 BC

  • (431) The Greek physician and philosopher Empedocles articulates the notion that the human body has four humors: blood, bile, black bile, and phlegm, a belief that dominates medical thinking for centuries.
  • (430) First performance of Sophocles’s Oedipus the King
  • (429) The plague of Athens, a devastating epidemic, hit the city-state of Athens in ancient Greece during the second year of the Peloponnesian War, killing nearly 1/3 of the population
  • (427) Greek Historian, Herodotus, composes Historiae in which he argues for an environmental case of human variability as a cause or adaptation to differing environments.
  • Pythagoras of Samos, Greek Mathematician, discoverer of the Pythagorean theorem.

Governance 425 BC

  • (431) the Peloponnesian War begins between Sparta and Athens and their allies.
  • (428) Mytilene rebels against Athens but is crushed.
  • (428) Sparta attempts to crush a rebellion on Corcyra, but cancels the efforts when the Athenians try to intercept them.
  • (427) Platea surrenders to the Spartans, who execute over 200 prisoners and destroy the city.
  • (427) the Athenians intervene in Sicily to blockade Sparta from the island
  • (425) Nehemiah institutes the 3rd and final return from exile and rebuilds the walls of Jerusalem. Later he oversees the political restoration of the land of Israel.
  • (425) The Athenians invade Sphacteria and defeat the Spartans in the battle of Pylos.
  • (424) Sicily withdraws from the war and expels every foreign power. Thus, Athens is forced to withdraw from the island.

Commerce 425 BC

  • (425) Demosthenes captures the port of Pylos in the Peloponnesus.
  • Olive oil was the principal fat consumed

Technology 425 BC

  • (432) Athens adopts a 19 year cycle of synchronizing solar and lunar calendars.
  • The Greeks invent the Anchor with Flukes
  • The Greeks invent linear perspective
  • The Greeks start to use shear-leg cranes for construction and loading of ships.
  • Trebuchet catapult is the first used by followers of the Chinese philosopher Mozi.
  • Cast Iron is first used in the Chinese kingdom of Wu with the innovation of the blast furnace, and soon becomes widespread for agricultural tools and weapons during the Warring States.
  • The Chinese hydraulic engineer Ximen Bao oversees an enormous canal system for agricultural irrigation.


Institutions 425 AD

  • (425) Buddhism begins to spread to Southeast Asia
  • (425) last known useage of Demotic
  • Armenian alphabet created by Mesrob Mashtot
  • Anglo-Saxon futhorc alphabet used in England
  • (431) St. Patrick, completed the conversion to Christianity in Ireland

Governance 425 AD

  • (425) October 23 – Valentinian III becomes Western Roman Emperor
  • (430) Ilopango erupted, devastating Mayan cities in present-day El Salvador.
  • (433) Attila the Hun was leader of the Huns
  • (439) Vandals conquer Carthage
  • (440) The Anglo-Saxons settle in Britain.

Commerce 425 AD

  • Unable to find information on commerce at this time.

Technology 425 AD

  • Horse Collar invented in China
  • Heavy Plow in use in Slavic lands
  • Metal Horseshoes become common in Gaul