ROMANTICS


This thesis roots itself in Romantics. Romantic being defined by Oxford as “characterized by, or suggestive of an idealized view of reality”. Most definitions of romantic include the word love or being in a state influenced by love, but then you have to go and find the definition for love as well. And, well, who can define that, really?

This thesis wants the user to ask themselves: How do you perceive your environment? Do you see it at all past an objective sense? If you only see it objectively (i.e. simply a building you pass by or a sidewalk or path you take to class or work), when was the last time you didn’t?

Think back to your childhood, maybe even your early to late teenage years. Did you daydream about a life you never lived? An area unexplored, a sight unseen? This is what the thesis wants to get at. These things all exist, they’re still around you. You just have to “see” them.

Comets, for example, are simply and objectively pieces of rock and metal plummeting to earth and disintegrating through Earth’s atmosphere in a wild ball of flames. Even so, we love to see them. Comets, meteorites, shooting stars, we are entranced by them. We set aside time to drive out and view a meteorite shower, we wait for the special years a comet will pass through our sky (i.e. Halley’s comet), and we are stunned when we see the blink of a “shooting star”.

Shooting stars are simple, but we love them all the same. We romanticize them and see them as beautiful (as much as you can define beautiful) and we treat them specially. And this is but one of the many objects and scenes we do this to. But shooting stars are nearly universally celebrated and romanticized. Maybe (probably) because they are “rare” in relativity and ephemeral in visibility.

So are things more common in life just not as special? Are they just not worth glamorizing? This thesis says no; anything and everything is worth re-imagining and romanticizing. It shouldn’t be a bad thing to live like a child, or to think like a child (for the most part anyway). I think I had much more fun as a kid and playing pretend than I ever did after I “grew up”. Innocence is what gives children and romantics “life”. Innocence believes, it just doesn’t know.

(background: minoru yoneto)













       

























      some pictures i’ve taken over the years.
      there’s no filters, yet they feel so dreamy.
      one was even taken before a typhoon; a true romanticization of the situation


     

THE PASSENGER EFFECT

The Passenger Effect is something I thought about recently. I was trying to think about why I stopped taking pictures of the sky in recent years. As soon as I got my first cellphone, the camera roll was always filled with sunsets, fun clouds, fields of grass, and lanscapes I would see while in the car. In the past five years or so though, my camera roll was pretty devoid of any sort of pictures, except for when I would go hiking or was on vacation.

It’s not like I stopped enjoying the sky and taking pictures of things--if anything, I wanted to do more of it. So why didn’t my camera roll reflect that? After some thinking, I realized that I grew up.

By growing up, I don’t really mean growing physically or having a change of heart or a different mindset. I mean more of the boring things that come with growing up. Responsiblities and duties to schools and extra curriculars is one. But what really did it in was learning how to drive and getting a car.

I didn’t get my license or a car until after I had graduated high school, so until that point, I had been a professional passenger in my mom’s car. Being a passenger allowed for me to see the world at a different pace (literally and figuratively). I could take all the pictures I wanted and didn’t risk crashing the car or getting a ticket. I could daydream the entire ride. I could space out. I could pretend like I was in a teenage music video. But I can never do this when I’m driving.

Being a passenger allows for so many thoughts to happen. Whether or not you think is up to you, but just the freedom to do so is much more liberating than you  would expect. There’s so much time to think. The only other times I’ve experienced this as an “adult” in college were times I took public transportation, was walking around, or when I was the passenger in a car.


On the right, a scene from Spirited Away. If Chihiro was driving, I wonder if she (or the viewer) could have appreciated this scene as she did in the movie.






(SUB/OB)JECTIVE


Now that we have an understanding of the Passenger Effect, we can look at (sub/ob)jective perceptions of reality and how this plays into it.

Whether there is a “right” reality or not has always been a topic of debate. What is establshed in philosophy though, is that there is an objective and subjective reality. Though most points of debate are around objective things, subjectivity is arguably closer to human reality than objectivity would ever be. 

Subjectivity is horrendously important when considering the human reality and thought process. There is never any way that you could understand the world like the next person (even if you’re a twin!). Could you come close? Yes. But you will never be able to understand their thoughts, the mind, what they see the world like. Therefore, it’s important to understand what objective and subjective thoughts are like and how they relate to this thesis and the Passenger Effect.
The comic below (that I couldn’t find the source for) illustrates this predicament best.



Objectively, the landscape in this background is an ocean view from a hill with some sort of landing floating(?) in it. Water, some concrete(?), and some foliage. That’s not very fun is it? Subjectively, this could be anything. For me, looked like a matchstick floating idly in the water, tensed against the current. For other people, who knows.

If the viewer had more objective tendencies, they would see some water and an installation. Very sterile.

If the viewer had more subjective tendencies, they might see a lot of things. The joy comes from trying to see their perspective on reality too.

ID, EGO, AND SUPER EGO


Because I could never explain anything better than Wikipedia could, here’s an excerpt from it defining the title of this section:
   
    “The id, ego, and super-ego are a set of three concepts in psychoanalytic theory describing distinct, interacting agents in the psychic apparatus (defined in Sigmund Freud's structural model of the psyche). The three agents are theoretical constructs that describe the activities and interactions of the mental life of a person. In the ego psychology model of the psyche, the id is the set of uncoordinated instinctual desires; the super-ego plays the critical and moralizing role; and the ego is the organized, realistic agent that mediates, between the instinctual desires of the id and the critical super-ego.”

So basically it’s a game of checks and balances with yourself and your thoughts. If that was hard to read, it took me minimum three reads to understand what it was saying.

Ego is the middle, the one that makes compensations and the realistic agent, id is the primal instictive self, and super ego is the critical and moralizing role. Again, we come across the term of “realisitc”. Of course, we understand this as something within reason, according to our environment and our situations, but what I think many fail to realize is that we do not have to equate our ego with our perception on life. 

While ego serves its purpose as a voice of reason and mediation between the two ends of id and super ego, we often allow for that verson of ego to also affect how we judge the world. While things are much easier to observe on an “objective” or rational scale, it leaves little room to relax and enjoy surroundings. If you are always analyzing to understand the construction or existance of things, you never get to really rest. 

It could be argued that letting the mind wander freely and participating in a sort of play would take an equal amount of energy with how your mind jumps from subject to subject, but there’s a difference between running a mile for school and taking a nice walk in the park for a mile isn’t there?


All three images shown are of the same photo of Poly Canyon.The left edited by myself, the right edited by a friend, and the one slapped on top the original, which could be argued as the best looking one.


These three images relate more to (sub/ob)jective arguments, but it is also a good exemplifier of ego being applied to how each individual thinks the world should be viewed.

THRESHOLD


Threshold is a term I first learned in my highschool mythology class. The threshold, as I was taught, was where the the hero would cross into the next stage of the story and there would typically be a guardian to challenge them and make them prove their worth (at least, that’s what I remember; it’s been over five years). Later in architecture school, I would learn that threshold had a multitude of meanings, from a physical barrier to a shift in elevation to a change in material.

So what does threshold mean in this thesis? Threshold here is the thin line between the ego’s reality and a reality that allows for a childish return to play. Objectively, the realities are the same-- physically, tangibly, nothing has changed. However, the perpsective may change. A reframing of sorts. 

The threshold described by this thesis is a tricky one to pin down since it differs in every situation and is not typically physical. For example, threshold when pretending the floor is lava. There is no physical or visible threshold to tell you when the floor has “become” lava, but at some point during play, you cross that threshold and begin to believe in a different reality. When you become engrossed is when you have crossed the threshold. The crossing is not a singular action, but a collection of several--an active and conscious choice to believe and see differently.

This concept exists in movies as well, probably more than you would realize (especially children’s movies). Spirited away once again exemplifies this, although in a more literal manner. Chihiro’s belief in the spirits could be a reason for her crossover into the spirit world, though her parents couldn’t see a thing. Children movies often depict mythical, imaginary, or fairy-like creatures that emulate desirable traits. Many times, they are a projection of what we want to be.

Strangely enough, this all sorta comes full circle with the normalization and common availability of VR Headsets. Virtual Reality is pretty much what this thesis is, except for the literal and physical assistance from the headset and console. Instead of giving you something to visually change your literal outlook on your surroundings, this thesis wants to almost rewire your brain into thinking like a VR system. Just reframe the surroundings yourself.


The image to the right was taken at the Kanazawa 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art. It’s “just” a simple hallway to the next space, but it felt a lot like a portal to another world with the foliage growing around it. There’s a lot of ways to reimagine this entry, but this is a good example of a physical threshold in the terms of this thesis.