CCT335: Lab #1 – Photo Essay/Typology Study
Assigned: Jan. 11th
Due: Jan. 25th (in class)
photo: Surveillance Club TO

Overview: In moving through urban space we tend to overlook the numerous examples of technological infrastructure that are ‘planted’ into the streetscape around us. As citizens, we are simply so used to this pervasive deployment of technology that we overlook it entirely, we only notice these objects if we need them (e.g. a parking meter that services the half city block we’ve parked on) and we simply see through them the rest of the time – we’ve become desensitised to their presence. This network of sensors and display systems and communication infrastructure help us make our way through the city and are actively engaged in sending and receiving information 24 hours a day. Our first lab will be dedicated to using a camera to seek out and record some of these elements.

Exercise: Choose a reoccurring technological element and find and photograph 6-12 of these objects in the urban environment. For each object, note the nearest intersection and jot down any relevant observations. Once you have collected your photographs and annotations, lay out this information on a single 8.5x11” sheet of paper. This assignment is open-ended, but in laying out the images and annotations you might:
  • create a thumbnail grid of the images with the metadata for each photograph
  • plot the location of your photographs and annotations on a map
  • create a photo-collage
  • feel free to provide an overview statement that encapsulates your findings – this must be worked into the layout though and cannot be a separate document, just be mindful not to let text take over the page as this is primarily an exercise in seeing and showing rather than writing.

Possible Systems to study/document:
  • The distribution of CCTV cameras in a large urban mall or public space
  • Cell sites and towers
  • Information or emergency kiosks in a public space or on a university campus
  • Animated Billboards, or media architecture in a public space like Dundas Square
  • The distribution of public payphones or above-ground telephone infrastructure
  • Ticket/information kiosks at bus stops
...but there are many more out there. The best way to approach this assignment might be to explore a bit before choosing your subject. If you cannot find six examples of the technological element you want to document, choose something more ubiquitous in the environment that you have access to.

Evaluation: This exercise is worth 10% of the final grade. Late penalties will be applied as per the terms outlined on the course outline. In marking the assignment overall design, clarity, imagination and engagement with the material will be taken into consideration. Please note that this is NOT a photography class and high-resolution, immaculate photographs are not required.

Please bring work in progress, questions and be prepared to discuss your (and your peers) work during the lab on the 18th.

Examples: Please note these examples as to how you may go about setting this assignment up. I / II / III