Intersection — Phase 1

Smithfield St. and Carson St.

THE MISSION

  1. Find the assigned intersection
  2. Explore the intersection and take notes
  3. Take photos of the intersection

THE GOAL

Be able to identify the things/experiences/people that make the intersection unique. Be able to effectively describe the intersection to other people. Learn how to communicate a specific area through pictures and eventually, simple forms.

THE JOURNEY (8–30–16)

I’ve often heard the phrase “the journey is more important than the destination”. To a certain extent, I agree. I think the journey informs the experience you have once you reach your final destination. This was definitely true of our excursion to the intersection of Smithfield Street and Carson. The journey on the way to our intersection was indicative of the trends of the people and places present at our intersection. The farther we traveled, the more the demographic and atmosphere shifted.

We got off the bus and walked through a financial/office district where the sidewalks and buildings were clean and everyone was professionally dressed. The next zone sat between this business district and the Smithfield Bridge. This area was populated by retail stores, some abandoned storefronts, and was generally dirtier and less inviting. The bridge itself signalled a change in the demographic/vibe, at least when you cross by foot not bus. The bridge’s footpath was used by bikers, joggers, couples, families, and large groups all headed either across the river for excercise or to the tourist and entertainment attractions on the other side of the river. The bridge also indicated the types of traffic we would encounter with it’s steady flow of buses and cars.

The walk between the bridge and the intersection was the most “comfortable” section of our trip. The focus of this area was the Landmarks Building. The surrounding buildings had been built in a similar style and they led to the waterfront attractions that were obviously more modern. I was pretty excited at this point because I knew our intersection was nearby and assumed the overall maintenance, aesthetic and atmosphere would be similar. But it wasn’t.

THE ACTUAL INTERSECTION

Google Map View of Our Intersection and Surrounding Area

My Feelings:

Our intersection was not a destination for many people, instead it was a stopping point and transportation hub for people headed to the attractions nearby, to other neighborhoods, or across the river. While a slight level of care was evident (minimal litter, functional crosswalks/lights/newspaper stands/bus stop), the area’s focus was on functionality not on beauty or cleanliness. Approaching the intersection from the bridge, it seems like you’re headed towards the end of the road. However, when you get closer you see that if you continue further you end up in the trolley tunnel. The other three directions open up far into the distance. The bridge itself stretches into the distant skyline past the river. Carson street extends both left and right past the trolley station and Monongahila Incline, respectively.

The Facts:

  • Approx. 1 minute walking from end of Bridge to intersection
  • cross walks in 3 directions,
  • Trolley Tunnel directly ahead when you approach from the bridge
  • Incline visible from the initial right corner
  • Constant traffic (min. 5 minutes waiting to cross)
  • Smells: gasoline, cigarette smoke, dampness (inside trolley tunnel)
  • Materials: brick, stone, concrete, metal, wrought iron, plastic, steel and glass (distance)
  • Colors: brown, grey, dark green, primary colors (newspaper kiosks), pastels (flowers)
Note explaining how the time of day effected the amount of traffic
Initial Notes

“After the Fact” Facts:

Area — South Shore / Station Square

http://www.stationsquare.com

Period of Restoration — 1983–84

Name of River — Monongahela River (right before it turns into Ohio River)

History of Landmarks Building http://www.forestcity.net/properties/work/office_buildings/Pages/the_landmarks_building.aspx

THEMES

Contrast — Our intersection was not just a literal intersection of two roads. Smithfield and Carson is also a place where many things and concepts intersect.

  • old vs. new
  • rich vs. poor
  • natural vs. manmade
  • young vs. old
  • fast vs. slow

Nature as an Attraction — The closer you are to water, the nicer the buildings, the higher the level of care, and the more inviting the area is. As you leave the riverside the atmosphere shifts from natural and relaxing to crowded and busy. The forest covering the hillside also attracts visitors to the Monongahela Incline to experience immersion in nature and also to see the contrast between water, forest, and urban environments.

Movement — Movement is pretty easy to find at an intersection particularly at Smithfield and Carson. Cars, Trolleys, Buses, Bikers, Pedestrians, and Monorail are all sandwiched between two sources of natural movement, the forest covering Mount Washington and the river flowing under the bridge. The theme of movement can also be noticed inversely, in places where things are stagnant or waiting. The bus stop, trolley stop, and roadway intersection were stoppage points, indicating that our intersection was not necessarily a desitination but a middle point most people would pass through without thinking about.

NEW MISSION (9–1–16)

I realized all my pictures are wrong for the final assignment. Together they gave a solid sense of the intersection but I wasn’t happy with any single picture as a indicator of the space. So I have to go back to the beginning. I will repeat steps 2+3 until I have a photo that…

  • is specific to the space
  • reflects the main forms/identifiers of the area
  • has layers of shape/form
  • communicates main descriptors (fast-paced, urban meets natural, place of secondary interest, planned historic)

Update(9–5–16)

Here’s the Picture I chose :

The Process

  1. Trace Pic
  2. Print Copies
  3. Cut Out Pieces of Different Layers
  4. Glue down different layers (stilt some layers to pop out)

Process Pictures

Final Traced Sketch
Photo and Scan of Sketch
Filled in areas to be cut out and the number of layers needed
Cut pieces layered for reference
Last layering before detail cutting and glueing
Final Layering

Post-Crit #1 (9–6–16)

What Worked :

  • balance of fine details and general background shapes
  • sense of perspective
  • cutting of fine edges (leaves)

What Didn’t Work:

  • raised layers (cars, trees)
  • cutting and detailing on Landmarks Building

Next Steps :

  • Change size to 6x8
  • generalize background layers to create depth without raising sections
  • extend detail shapes on Landmarks Building
  • improve overall craftsmanship

Looking Ahead (Things that might make the grey tone version go quicker/look better)

  • if possible keep traced layers/stencils of each piece so I don’t need to rescan/reprint/reorganize my brain
  • fill in a copy of my scan with greyscale values

Overall Reflections

While looking at the other pieces I really enjoyed the simplicity in the projects that used whole layers instead of individual pieces. I am planning to try and condense my pieces into layers while still keeping the distinct feeling of the intersection.

I also really liked the way my raised sections looked and added noticeable dimension to the piece. However, I was glad that we talked about the impact of shadowing on raised pieces because I now have a better understanding of what the assignment is and how to improve my work.

Post Crit # 2 (9–8–16)

What Went Right

The two major accomplishments of my second white-on-white attempt were:

  1. Improved craftmenship
  2. Conveyed perspective using fewer layers

Things I Learned

  1. open/negative space is necessary so piece doesn’t feel crammed or confusing
  2. the right angle conveys sense of perspective and scale
  3. zooming too far out or in can cause problems

So the question is… “ DOES MY CURRENT SILHOUETTE FIT THE ORIGINAL DESCRIPTION OF THE INTERSECTION”

According to various classmates and my priliminary notes of the intersection, yes. But I can definitely improve the way I present the different layers and pieces that communicate the sense of Smithfield/Carson.

Things I Want to Change/Figure Out

  1. The way I make the cars
  2. If the lampost is necessary
  3. If the fence on the right is necessary
  4. The level of detail on the Landmarks Building
  5. the level of detail on the buildings in the distance

Aside from the layering and craftmenship of the piece, I also have to account for the different tones in my next version. Instead of using a different grey tone for each overall layer of the piece, I plan to use various greys in each section to show dimension both in individual parts of the intersection and the picture overall.

Tonal Version 1

After completing the final changes to my white cut out, I have a better understanding of what features and necessary to communicate Smithfield and Carson. I decreased the number of layers I used for each section to increase the subtlety of the dimensions and reduce any distracting shadows.

Work-wise, I cut out every piece from a single tone at one time before moving on to the next tone. This was in order to ensure I conserved the paper I had and also so I could begin to lay out the composition and observe if any colors needed to be switched for a different color.

To keep myself organized, I labeled my drawing in parts. Each part was marked with a color or number. The numbers themselves signified a specific tonal value, 1 being the lightest and 4 being the darkest. The labeled page was an important reference point where I made various changes to the shades I originally selected as I cut pieces out.

Greyscale Guide
Layout of various sections during the process of cutting details

Post Grey Tone Crit

This critique was the most helpful of all the critiques to me because I had spent so long looking at my individual piece that I hadn’t analyzed it from a distance or as a companion to other sites. From far away I was able to tell what areas were too busy (the upper trees) and what areas needed more definition and detail (the cars)

Final Version with Color Substitution

Process:

My process remained the same as in previous cut outs, however I was much more efficient this time as I had scanned and saved stencils of all the individual pieces needed to complete the cut out.

Observations:

The greatest difference I noted between this work and previous pieces was the ability of the added color to change or heighten the atmosphere of a location. I chose blue as a substitution for my lightest grey value, and the bright hue gave my scene a distinct personality that wasn’t as noticeable in the others.

After critique I analyzed whether the inviting, bright personality of the intersection was true to the intersection in real life. As I re-evaluated my experience at Smithfield and Carson, I realized that I had chosen my view of the intersection for a reason. While the site itself was nothing special, if you turned and walked in the direction of my piece, you were greeted with well maintained tourist attractions, a walking path, and an incredible view of the city skyline across the bridge. The color change was important to communicate my personal view from the intersection which is distinctly different from the physical view of the intersection itself (if you are facing the opposite direction of my piece) towards the various transportation stops and constant flow of people. It was interesting how my final cut out represented the way I felt about the intersection, and my bias and appreciation for the site affected my color choice and therefore, my final overall.

Final Grey Scale with Color Addition
The series
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