Feedback to the “High Rise” Project
By Katerina Cizek

“High Rise” is an example of how multiple multimedia elements can be combined to document the evolution of a phenomena that has affected society, dating back to biblical times. Cizek documents that High Rise structures have been around since the Bible’s Tower of Babel over 2,000 years ago. She then takes the reader on an interesting journey into the history of the people, places, and symbolic nature of the development of the large vertical structures using a four-part interactive series. From the main four-part video, the viewer can click anytime on a tab labeled, ‘Explore —-‘ to view additional information about the current topic being discussed.

The story includes many levels of interactivity. For example, in Part I, the reader is invited to click a highlighted portion of the screen to learn of how multiple religious texts offered different explanations of whether the Tower of Babel was destroyed by God or not. The two images below show first the screen that includes the entire Tower with a section of it highlighted to indicate the reader to click. Then, the click initiates an animated display of some of the Tower falling, with the remaining structure shown in the second image along with words that help frame the story of whether God was thought to destroy the Tower or not.

Entire Tower of Babel
Entire Tower of Babel
Partially Destroyed Tower of Babel
Partially destroyed Tower of Babel

The photo below adds another layer of interactivity by having the reader drag the ‘Roman’ to the right and then clicking on highlighted regions of the building to reveal some of the names of the apartment buildings.

Click-and-Drag Interaction Using Roman Apartments
Click-and-Drag interaction using Roman apartments

Yet another effective example of the click-and-drag interaction was in documenting the contribution of the elevator to high-rises, as seen in the graphic below.

Click-and-Drag Interaction Using the Elevator
Click-and-Drag interaction using the elevator

Throughout the video, the viewer can click on the tab at the bottom of the screen to obtain more information about the current topic (as stated earlier). Many sections include photos, such as the one below, where the viewer can click a tab on the right side of the screen that reads, “See Back.”

Discussion of the Future of Mass Housing from Early 1900's
Building planning from early 1900’s

While most of ‘back’ of the photos describe a short description of the front of the picture in black text, some of them display text (or stamped words/labels) from the past to provide the viewer with a glimpse of some of the common ideas involved in the construction of high-rise structures, as shown in the picture below.

Back of 'Building Planning' Photograph
Back of ‘Building Planning’ photograph

Bold and large font are used effectively throughout the story to capture the viewer’s attention, such as the horrific living conditions at the complex used to house Hashima coal miners, as shown in the photograph below.

Different Fonts Used to Highlight Horrific Living Conditions
Different fonts used to highlight horrific living conditions

Some of the sections cleverly included a short game to help illustrate the subject, such as building Vancouver’s condos or placing furniture inside of a small micro-unit apartment (screenshot shown below).

Short game to decorate micro-unit apartment
Short game to decorate micro-unit apartment

Another element that was good was how the story included a different narrator for the third portion of the story, Cold Specks, as a way to add a different tone to the final narrated portion of the story. I thought the poetry style of story telling for the first three sections was effective and forced the reader to pay extra attention to match the photos with the rhythmical narration.

Miles Glendinning, Mass Housing Scholar, and Graeme Stewart, Architect and Advocate of Tower Renewal, provided stimulating audio alongside photographs to add additional context for some of the more thought-provoking subjects.

The fourth part of the story added an additional element with the powerful music by Patrick Watson during the slide show of both uplifting and troubling images from balconies, different weather conditions, high-rise inhabitants (both humans and pets), and finally priceless views from inside of the building during dawn and dusk, such as the image displayed below.

Image at dusk from Chicago Skyline high-rise
Image at dusk from Chicago Skyline high-rise

Color is used effectively throughout the story to show true images from a certain time period and illustrate the conditions that effected the evolution of the high-rise, as displayed in the two images below.

Black-and-white image of Tenement apartments
Black-and-white image of Tenement apartments
Colorful image of Icon Brickell in Miami on bright, sunny day
Colorful image of Icon Brickell in Miami on bright, sunny day

In addition to the first four parts, a photo gallery of readers’ stories is included to provide further insight of peoples’ views of high-rise living. One benefit of the gallery is the captions are on the same page as the image. An example image is shown below.

Photo gallery example
Photo gallery example

The first three parts of the story involve time navigation to document the history of vertical living. Part I takes a historical look at vertical structures from the Tower of Babel over 2,000 years ago, to Arizona cliff dwellings 700 years ago, to Yemen’s ‘Manhattan of the desert’ 500 years ago, to the Tenement in New York 100 years ago. A photograph of the famous Dakota building transitioned the reader to the second part of the story, the ‘century of the high-rise’ (or, the start of vertical living being in its ‘prime’), in 1884. Then, the early residential use of concrete occurred in 1916. The Hashima Island example explored the idea that vertical structures were both thought of as a solution to the century’s problems to being the cause for them. Then, in 1930, the idea of public housing spread worldwide, from Vienna to the United States. After World War II, mass housing bloomed for the next two decades, promoting social equity. During this time, New York was cited as housing 5% of its residents in its housing projects. During the same time-frame, Robert Moses’ urban renewal is cited as boosting the segregation and crime it was supposed to reduce. Then, around 1968, most cities except for New York demolished high-rise structures on a mass scale. Many of the remaining high-rise neighborhoods were now warehouses for the poor and had buildings that were falling apart. The story then transitioned to the rise of the era of the Condominium in the 1990’s. These new vertical structures are sought after by the capitalist elite and are no longer signs of social equity. The timeline continues by documenting the rise of pop-up cities and how more poor people were made to live in older concrete structures (a kind of ‘deportation’). The timeline continues by documenting how low-rent units became smaller and smaller as a way to confine the young and cash-poor into a prison-like retreat. The end of Part III documents that despite the challenges facing urban high-rises in certain communities, they are thriving in many countries, such as Singapore and Hong Kong. One of the only sections that did not follow the timeline was in Part II, when the story took a quick turn to the present to cite that 60 million people in Russia, Germany, and Mongolia still reside in vertical concrete structures.

Some of the other points of navigation are by using the ‘Explore’ button to illustrate a full story within a certain section, as shown in the two images below.

First image for keeping Hip-Hop building
First image for keeping building that birthed Hip-Hop
Second image for keeping building that birthed Hip-Hop
Second image for keeping building that birthed Hip-Hop

Additionally, part four involved navigating through different collections of images revolved around certain common themes, such as the idea of being alone. Examples of these are shown in the three images below.

Man, along on balcony
Man, along on balcony
Child, alone, inside high-rise apartment
Child, alone, inside high-rise apartment
Man, alone, at dusk
Man, alone, at dusk
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