// CENTRE + AIKEN

PROMPT ;

Students are separated into groups of three to capture the essence of a given intersection in Pittsburgh through a collection of photos.

We are encouraged to observe the nature of the intersection at different hours of the day: the people, the traffic, the buildings, the greenery, etc.


UPON FIRST GLANCE ;

08.30.16 around 3/4 pm

The intersection Centre + Aiken was mainly defined by a Courtyard Marriott, the first ever United Methodist Church, and the UMPC hospital. It was a bustling intersection with a ton of impatient drivers and bikers; pedestrians were not very welcomed.

There were a wide range of age groups in the area — the old, the hipsters, the med students, the families, etc. — leading us to perceive Centre + Aiken to be a generally family friendly area.

There was most predominately a copious number of medical institutions, even including a Nuclear Stress Test Facility for cardiology. Following suit to the medical institutions was the number of residential buildings.

In the photo to the left, you may notice the slightly more irregular building with the circular patterns in the background next to the marriot. It seemed to be quite a contemporary design for a building so close to a historical landmark of a church built in 1893. The bus we took was full of UPitt medicine/dental students, most likely due to the proximity of theUMPC hospital along Aiken.

Left: more residential and traditional styled residential buildings. Right: a medicine/dental student can be seen walking towards the UMPC hospital along the residential side of Aiken.

One side of Aiken was relatively older and more residential with larger trees, while the other side was much newer, more open and commercial.

The intersection did not have any cross walk signs and one of the buildings closer to the residential side of Aiken had metal barred windows and security cameras.

Buildings were mainly constructed of brick, concrete, and rock.

VIBES ;

It felt like a rather secure neighborhood as there was a constant flow of foot traffic and cars passing by. However the people were quite sassy (one lady in her car almost ran us over; had no intention of yielding and straight up told us we should walk fast when the light turns green.)

It had an interesting juxtaposition of old buildings such as the First United Methodist Church erected in 1893 A.D., and new buildings such as the Marriott.


SECOND VISIT ;

around 6/7 pm

Mainly noticed there was much less traffic, and a larger demographic of Asian students (rather than the abundance of UPitt med students from last time). Below are shots of different angles from the intersection.

Due to the fairly cooler weather, and lower traffic levels, this time I felt more comfortable looking into the details of my intersection. Here are the main things I noticed:

  1. The church had three boarded up stained glass windows, with the other windows being quite dusty and lackluster. Oddly enough, the sign and plants in front of the church seemed to be very new and well maintained.
  2. The building that I once thought was a residential building turned out to be an office building for MD’s and DMD’s. Further accentuating the idea that this was a dense medical area.
  3. The overall corner at first looked relatively well cared for, but after looking closer, it was noticeable that there was only a limited amount of maintenance put into the corner. There was very little litter and no foul scents, but there was an abundance of weeds growing through cracks and cigarette butts along the uneven sidewalks and stairwells. There was also grafitti on just about all the poles, mailboxes, fire hydrants, etc.

// PROCESS 01

09.02.16–09.04.16

The long nights spent cutting away at bristol.

DAY 01 ;

Friday from just about when classes ended till around 12, we were all gathered together cutting our hearts away. I got the majority of my piece done on this day. I was determined to finish it, until I realized I was growing an x-acto blade bump on my middle finger.

I had also begun laughing hysterically which was a sure sign I should quit for the night. :^)


DAY 02 ;

On Saturday, I came into studio a little later, working silently by myself to create more layers and add depth to my piece. My arm was incredibly sore from the previous day of cutting.

I was feeling kind of down; homesick to say the least. However, my friend took me out of studio to get milk tea — something very reminiscent of home for me. On the way back to studio, we ran into a couple of other friends and went to karaoke until 11:30.

With my spirits much lifted, I was determined to start wrapping up the piece.


DAY 03 ;

Spent just around 3 hours finishing up smaller details, cleaning up some lines and putting it all together. Had to wrap my X-acto knife because the rough part was really causing my middle finger to swell and callous.


END RESULT ;

15 hours // 3 sheets of bristol // 1.5 x-acto blades // lots of suffering


// PROCESS 02

09.07.16

I decided to change my photo because I felt that the cropping restrictions would not have suited my original cut out (scaling down would’ve made the man too small, and just cropping as it is would lose too much). Below are shots from throughout my progress.

ISSUES ALONG THE WAY ;

I had a couple problems with my hands really being in quite some pain from cutting. My index finger was wrinkly from the roughness of the x-acto blade and the strength of grip needed to cut through the bristol, despite having wrapped the blade with squishy medical tape. My middle finger had a bump just below the left side of my nail (similar to the bumps that appear when people grip their pencils too tight).

END PRODUCT ;

In the end, I felt like the finished product just wasn’t as good as I had hoped for it to be. The lines on the right house aren’t aligned and the sidewalk and bush seem mediocre. Overall, not to happy with the craftsmanship of it, but I still enjoy the composition of it.

TALKING TO TA’S ;

  • They recommended to me to lessen the road part, and increase the amount of sky.
  • make sure the framing works without a border
  • make sure the house in the background is more easily readable — exaggerate the curve of the roof.
  • make the curb more on the same plane (like the edge/side portion)
  • Something interesting Temple told me is that the houses with the lifted part is something only very wealthy areas can have.

// PROCESS 03

09.10.16–09.12.16

GREYSCALE ;

Using 4 various warm grey tones to produce a greyscale version of our cutout.

It was interesting because we didn’t need as many layers to distinguish parts of the house.

I chose to follow the photo and actual house more closely, which I ended up regretting later because the harsh contrast lost the subtlety and serenity I was looking to portray.

Steve told me blatantly my photo was not interesting. Which I honestly couldn’t disagree with: the photo itself was very mundane, without much of a point of focus. I had honestly already initially felt this when I first chose the photo, but this late into the game I have to commit to it — especially because I’m sick. :(


WHAT I’VE LEARNED ;

  • not everything is about making the form “pretty” — there’s a lack of a story to be told in the work I put out and I feel disappointed in myself for that.
  • go with my gut instinct ; don’t half-ass it or else you won’t be proud of what you put up.

// PROCESS 04

09.13.16

COLOR ;

Replacing one value with one color of choice.

I put each of the nine colors up to my cut out to see which gave the most serene “vibes” — reflective of that residential part of Aiken. Because at this point, I’m already aware my image lacks a concrete “story” so I am trying to work more with the concept of serenity. These two houses were the only two of their kind in the middle of large apartment buildings, commercial structures and hospitals. They embodied a calmness that was absent in the rest of the busy intersection.

Now looking back, I’m not sure if it was a good choice to pick these two houses considering they’re somewhat different from the rest of the intersection… But as Steve said, it’s too late to change it now, as long as I learned from this process it was worth the time.

I laid out several thumbnails first, one more true to the original grey scale, one inverse, and one totally different.

Because I was going for a more calming look, I chose the muted blue-green tone as the spot color, and I chose to replace the darkest grey tone. I felt that the darkest grey tone, although it created a nice sense of contrast, it was somewhat too harsh. This muted tone was a lot closer in value to the other warm grey values, which I felt allowed for a much softer image with more sensibility.


// FINAL

09.19.16

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