dissecting urban space, architecture, cultural meaning and myth through the act of walking (in used shoes) and narration in chinatown/oldtown - portland, oregon


sketchbook entries

new splint!

I think I am turning into Darth Vader. How awesome is that?


the campfire concept

the power of a campfire to engage a group of people around a myth is the concept for my narratorium. What is it about the campfire that lends it that quality? The light, warmth, dancing colors, the circular orientation of the participants, the way the background becomes a dark void? With this spatial study, I am begining to investigate these qualities in an architectural expression. Here, the background is framed by wooden slats, which reference the forest beyond the campfire circle and the ambiguous nature of the backdrop. A skylight would project a spot of light in the center of the floor.


Book Illustrations

The Book/Map

After exploring the neighborhood for awhile, walking up and down the streets, I came up with this vessel for a narrative that came out of the experiences and places that I encountered. My character, having little self control, is able to have control over the reader - in the way that the book is experienced/operated. The idea of the scroll came out of the historical context of Chinatown.
The path that takes place in the story is important to the protagonist - as he experiences these places daily. If the reader follows this path, they walk in the shoes of the character, thus becoming the protagonist. Then, the former protagonist becomes the antagonist in his own way.
The frame comes from reclaimed IPÊ (a Brazilian hardwood) tongue and groove flooring; the dowels are recycled from a previous studio project and the scroll is canvas.



Manifesto for a Narratorium

A Narratorium is a place to tell stories, myths and legends. Long lost is this art. The act of story telling exhibits a history that is unmentioned in history books. It is the personal note to the bigger picture; or even a personal note to a picture never taken. The contents of these stories are rich with context and fulfill an occasion for retelling of the events that occurred in the community and abroad; or the myths that surround the same.

People visit a narratorium because they are intrigued by the stories of others. The story tellers are people who have interesting and significant stories that add value to the community and history. At the narratorium, these people can come together and interact in a place that is deemed for this common purpose.

The stories can have a plethora of tones and topics. Story tellers can go off on tangents or stay focused. The freedom in narration is what makes story telling different than many of the arts. It can evolve or change due to the vibe of the conversation and content.

An indoor auditorium will be the main space and attractor for the Narratorium. This space will be appropriate in size to the act of storytelling, while also architecturally supporting this act. The auditorium could also act as a gallery space for supporting material.

The narrations may find support in the other arts: musical, sculptural, graphical or even multi-media in their retelling. The support could come in a reactionary articulation or even a parallel telling of the same or similar event – a theme if you will.

The accommodation of both indoor and outdoor spaces for interaction is very important. The power of the campfire to engage a group of people around a myth is legendary. (ha!). A fire pit in an outdoor space would be interesting to advocate this activity. As well, an area for an open-forum debate would greatly add to the vibrancy of the Narratorium. A garden space, for contemplation and meditation, would make a great compliment to the loud nature of an open debate.

I would like to incorporate an archival area to record, store and give access to a wide range of stories and myths. These stories could be told by people in communities from all over and video/audio taped. Visitors could have access to these stories within a viewing area where an archivist has amassed a collection and made it available for the public.

I would also like to have a component that reaches out to the community through the education of school children. Teaching children the value of the stories embedded in their cultures through their elders and the importance of learning and passing on those stories. This could be a position that the archivist could take on unless it was deemed to be a more important role that would require a full time position. Then a community outreach coordinator would be necessary.

The Narratorium could act as its own living, breathing entity with living space built in. The people involved would have the ability to live in a place that is vibrant and interesting while contributing to its own myth. Residents could be invited to come from all over to spend time here – telling their stories and handing down their folk tales. These people would need places to sleep, eat, as well as a place to think, write down thoughts, contemplate and possibly decompress from the daily activities associated with the responsibilities and complexities of the resident program. As well, other artists that are in support of the story telling could be invited to live on this community.

The director of the Narratorium will need a place to conduct business, as will their assistant, the archivist, the curator, the community outreach coordinator, and the resident storytellers. The A/V specialist will need a workspace and a storage space to keep various machines needed in the function of the Narratorium.

The Narratorium should be in contact with a community of narratoriums around the world and work with them on lecture tours and the constant evolution of the idea to what a narratorium should be and what its role is within the community.

This idea of a narratorium, as a civic device and institution, is a new idea that will evolve as this studio moves forward in discussions and debates. Hopefully we will be joined by people in the community in this confabulation about the space involved in telling as well as listening to interstitial journal entries and near mentioned apologues of war heroes and activists.


A Call to Arms

Like terracotta soldiers protecting their Emperor, they wait to be called into duty. They are hidden away in a secret place; find them and hear their stories. They talk of a town built on the stumps of history - there were trap doors and people's dreams were abducted.

myth or fact?

Portland's Old Town has the second largest collection of cast iron buildings in the country - number one being Manhattan.