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ADS6: Body of Making

Cessie Frangiamore

Cessie Frangiamore is a London based architectural designer, graduating from the Royal College of Art with a Masters in Architecture. Cessie completed her BA Hons Architecture at the Sheffield School of Architecture in 2018. She went on to work at an architecture practice in London before joining the Royal College of Art. During her time at the RCA, she conducted research-based projects with a practice that allowed her to enter into discussions beyond the realm of architectural and spatial interrogations, considering socio-political implications.

Cessie completed her thesis project 'Architecture of Trial' in ADS 6 under Clara Kraft, Satoshi Isono and Dr. Guan Lee. Her final year thesis work has been a development of research undertaken during her first year, exploring the theme of imagery, ways of seeing and perception. Through a multidisciplinary approach, Cessie is interested in challenging the role of the architect to understand how architectural design can embody a response practically and experimentally.

In her first year of MA, she completed her project 'Digitally Physical' in ADS 8, under Dr. Marina Otero Verzier, Ippolito Pestellini Laparelli and Kamil Hilmi Dalkir. The research considered the relationship between the digital and physical, particularly looking at the implications of energy consumption from a speculative, qualitative and artistic approach. Her dissertation 'Through the Looking Glass' used a temporary typological framework to discuss the state of reality and truth in relation to architectural representation.

Degree Details

School of Architecture

ADS6: Body of Making

My thesis has been an exploration into how we see and how representation can be deceptive—questioning the mechanics and implications of perception, as well as the instability of mechanical ways of seeing. The project looks to ask questions and speculate possible answers in equal measure, using techniques we understand as spatial practitioners and applying this way of seeing to various scenarios, specifically in the context of a trial.

The research is divided into three segments.

1.0_Mechanical ways of seeing

Segment I looks at mechanical ways of seeing and how they are fundamentally unstable and open to distortion. Mechanical ways of seeing refers to making a copy of reality.

2.0_On Trial

Segment II looks at a firm example in which the legal system operates and the possible misrepresentations within the courtroom. The courtroom is a stage for visibility, heightened by cameras and enhanced by a performance. Media means any form of information: visual or otherwise being transmitted to us through different forms.

3.0_Architecture of Trial

Segment III is a piece that discusses revelations from previous segments, imagining a court of public opinion. The Architecture of Trial is not an alternative to the justice system but is rather a testing ground for the meaning of trial and what it means to put on trial. The Architecture of Trial acts as a space for diverse visibility, both public and private, providing a shared arena between the spectator, spectacle and the media. Can the accountability of 'seeing' prove to be just beyond reasonable doubt?

How can we explore the instability of mechanical ways of seeing?

How do such mechanisms have the power to influence visibility as a spatial practice?

After graduating from the RCA, Cessie hopes to pursue the threads of her research developed during her thesis, operating within the fields of architecture, spatial design and visual culture.

SLIT SCAN — If time is an indexical object, we can argue that the image is the only thing to capture a fragment of time – capturing movement truly.

Segment I is an exploration into technologies of visualisation and how these speak of truth, half-truth or untruth—discussing visibility, ways of seeing and how not to be seen.

1.1  VISIBILITY

Images are processed by the eye and received by the brain as information; what our eye sees is how we experience. Perspective coerces us to believe an image is real, yet it is a highly abstracted form. Throughout history, the role of the image has changed, from an object of knowledge to a form of knowing, yet all centers around 'truth'.

Over the centuries, we have tried to deconstruct how we see the world, convinced through the pursuit of realism. Our expanded ability to manufacture realities has given rise to indistinguishability between substance and the simulation.


1.2 WAYS OF SEEING

This deconstruction can be demonstrated in various techniques and devices, which have been developed to understand the technical yet superficial elements of how the biological eye sees. The research experiments look to demonstrate visual cues; movement, form and depth.

1.      Stereoscope – [depth]

When the stereoscope was first developed, it quantified and formalised the physiological operation of binocular vision, mimicking how the eye sees in order to trick the brain into seeing depth. Suggesting experience is as much based on the body as it is the machine. Our eyes create an image through a form of engagement.

2.      Slit scanning – [movement]  

A slit-scan image works by extracting images from a film—immortalising movement within a single image.

3.      Picture plane – [form]

 Perspectival drawing pretends the picture plane does not exist, and also the camera's depth of field and even the proscenium – all of these thresholds put into question the definition of the picture plane

GRYMSDYKE FARM — 1m3 box was constructed at Grymsdyke Farm to act as a test bed to understand various optical devices.
EXPERIMENTS — There is something missing in which we are not able to translate the world accurately. This deconstruction can be demonstrated in various techniques and devices, which have been developed to understand the technical yet superficial elements of how the biological eye sees. The research experiments look to demonstrate visual cues; movement, form and depth. The following tests looked at specific elements of how we see.

Such instruments are not as sophisticated as the biological eye, which can simultaneously work through multiple parallels. Such brings us no closer to a monolithic truth but constructs new paradigms for reading images and understanding our complex relationship with them.

HOW NOT TO BE SEEN — A 'how-to' video, a mock instructional film, looking at techniques to avoid being seen. Extract from "How Not to Be Seen" sketch from Monty Python's Flying Circus, 1970. Inspired by Hito Steyerl.

1.3 HOW NOT TO BE SEEN

Through an initial inquiry into the technicalities of how one sees, the research questioned the threshold of not being seen. Through a seemingly simple 'how not to be seen', discussions around detectability, camouflage and disruptive patterns come to surface. 


Medium:

Film

Size:

00:33
CINEMATIC REPRESENTATION OF THE COURTROOM (STILL) — Clips from Trial of the Chicago 7 (2020), Just Mercy (2019), Marshall (2017), Bridge of Spies (2015), House of Cards (2014), Games of Thrones (2014), The Wolf of Wall Street (2013), The Dark Knight Rises (2012), Suits (2011), Arrested Development (2006), Legally Blond 2 (2003), The Wire (2003), Catch Me If You Can (2002), A Few Good Men (1992), My Cousin Vinny (1992), Kramer vs. Kramer (1979), Inherit the Wind (1960), To Kill a Mockingbird (1960). Inspired by Christian Marclay.
REAL VS. CINEMATIC — Deconstructing camera movements of the verdict using archival footage from the trial of 'The People of the State of California v. Orenthal James Simpson' (1995) and the cinematic adaptation ‘The People v. O. J. Simpson: American Crime Story’ (2016).
THE ROLE OF THE CAMERA — A montage of over 300 still frames from archival footage of the final verdict. Stitched together manually to showcase the point of view from the camera. This single point of view managed to capture, portray and ultimately change public perception of the trial.

Having understood how such technologies speak of truth or untruth, Segment II is a firm example of how the legal system operates and how the visualisation plays out truth, non-truth and artificiality. Looking at the body, stage, and prop, through the broadcast medium.


2.1 BODY 

The contemporary court of law is a literal demonstration of legal theatre, enabling a re-enactment of a spatial performance. The court is laid out spatially to abide by strict rules and acute awareness of sightlines. Similarly to the broadcasting of a television show, there is an audience situated in a viewing gallery. The trial is a performance as lawyers learn and practice their lines. Witnesses are advised on how to play their role—any divergence from the performance questions the fragility of perception.

2.2 STAGE

Such bodies exist as actors within a stage. There is a principle of visibility in law as it is not transparent. A lawyer believes their argument to be transparent, yet such discrepancies bring doubt to the narrative. The courtroom becomes a physical enclosure punctured by strategic portals, creating a parallel representation of the outside world dispelling the beliefs of closed justice.

2.3 PROP

The outside world is invited into the courtroom through the camera. Props heighten drama and the way these were perceived played a pivotal role. Due to the digitalisation of legal proceedings, the notion of visually capturing it through the camera presents challenges in terms of evading subjectivity.


The body, stage and prop must synchronise to create the performance. Leaks to the media tainted public perception and the competing narratives, revelations and speculations, fascinated, distracted and entertained the public. Through such an absurd arrangement of curated factors surrounding the case, enough reasonable doubt was revealed.


Medium:

Digital Images
THE SQUARE — The programme sets out to imagine a public space that adapts to engage the public through a theatrical spectacle whilst everyday life continues in the square.
THE SPECTACLE — The open structure of the trial area is significant within the proposal - if information can go anywhere then what is confinement? How can we understand evidence if we cannot have an independent view?

Segment III discusses the Architecture of Trial, not an alternative to the justice system but testing the meaning of trial and what it means to put on trial. The trial by media is a public court, specifically for the greater public interest. The trial is a platform for a social or political injustice, encouraging extreme public engagement.


Medium:

Digital Images
SPECTACLE
SPECTACLE
BROADCAST SCREEN
DELIBERATION CHAMBER
THE SQUARE

3.1 THE SQUARE

'The Square' consists of a deliberation chamber, a broadcast screen and a trial area. Named to highlight the double meaning; a public open space and a place to settle disputes. The Square is a moment of trying to be transparent, with a clear grid framework, in which we can measure distortion, both for the mechanical view and as a symbol. The mechanical ways of seeing, the possibility of deception in space, and the multimedia influence of the court case demonstrate how point of view becomes crucial in understanding reality. The architecture for trial is a kind of exposé. We experience the legal system almost every day, yet it is invisible. 


3.2 SPECTACLE

The traditional courtroom hierarchy is inverted within the trial area as the judge sits at the lowest platform reversing the power structure. Each actor has a platform that defines yet does not contain their space.

3.3 SPECTATORSHIP

The public is the jury. The deliberation chamber is a considered space for the public to gather and vote, akin to the jury room. Such a communal area acts as a collective enterprise. 'The Square' allows for viewing the broadcast.  

3.4 MEDIA

The jury has the power to decide the verdict. The voting occurs in the deliberation chamber. What does it mean to give the power of the verdict to the people? Many eyes in the courtroom, both biological and mechanical, make our perception vulnerable to distortion.


Medium:

Digital Images
TRIAL AREA
MEDIA — The spectator becomes part of the camera movement.

In the contemporary context, one key idea within the project is the strong underlying media involvement during the trial. This raises questions about objectivity within the courtroom. This media involvement suggests that the trial becomes subject to distortion and manipulation. The project seeks to address this question by asking what would happen if we were to make it even more open? The design is not a definitive model but will develop through trial and error. The proposal seeks to promote openness to expose the role media plays in distorting our perception during the trial.

When all the segments are combined, they reveal a distortion in how we see the world. There cannot be a single, all-encompassing truth but rather multiple truths that have to be fragmented to allow us to see more carefully. Can the accountability of ‘seeing’ prove to be beyond reasonable doubt? Will the instability of mechanical ways of seeing always exist? 

Medium:

Film