At the top of Oakland
Made by Rikky Roy Koganti
My viewing experience was from the 35th floor of the cathedral of learning.
Created: November 5th, 2014
Place : Cathedral of Learning, 35th Floor.
View : A whole lot of Pittsburgh
1. When you arrive in the space. Think about the words that come to mind when you take in the scene in front of you? Why do they come to mind?
From the top of the Cathedral of Learning, you can see most of the city. The first thing I thought was 'Wow, I really stayed in my safe zone,'. I realized how many areas of the city I had never ventured into, in the 3 odd years I've been here. Perhaps it was because this was a city I wasn't used to, but I am already a senior; I should be fairly used to it. I felt like in the past 3 years, I've visited many main attractions of Pittsburgh but by no means would I consider myself a resident of this city, as I took in everything I had yet to encounter here.
2. What are the objects you see directly in front of you? Name each of them in your mind.
With so much to take in, its hard to name all of them but every time I go up there, I always enjoy looking down upon the locations I frequent. I could see Flagstaff Hill and Phipps Conservatory, the football team practicing on the field, people playing soccer on the soccer field, Craig Street, and I could even see my own house if I squinted hard enough. Most of all, looking at all the people and traffic going on down below was the best part. It might be one of the reasons people like going to high places, it makes them feel disconnected from the rest of the world, almost like they are staring down at a game-board with all these characters moving about.
3. Imagine there are lines drawn between all of objects or things in the space? How are they connected? Are they organized?
One thing that really struck out at me was the road itself. I could see pretty much the entire road network, and having just watched the need for speed movie a few days prior, I imagined a reenactment of the car chase scene through the city of Pittsburgh, and watching it all from the top of the cathedral. The road itself ended up separating the city into various grid and segments, but the roads of Pittsburgh were so curvy that the blocks themselves looked very uneven.
4. Close your eyes for a minute and open them again. Where do your eyes go to? Why do you think they land in this location?
My eyes went straight to Flagstaff Hill, in Schenley Park. It might have been because of the stark difference in color from the park, with all its greenery and all the white and grey of the rest of its surrounding roads and buildings. It might have also been because I immediately thought of how the park and hills would look in the winter, completely covered in snow, and I promised myself I would come up here again in the winter. I've also hung out around that area a lot, for picnics, buggy, sledding, and just random events but it was empty that afternoon, not like what I was used to so once again the contrast in that might have drawn my eyes to it.
5. Close your eyes for a minute and open them again. What are the colors that you see best or appeal to you most? Why is that?
Definitely the fall color of the trees that I could see on Schenley park. Since I could see the entire array of trees, it looked like one giant, red bush of trees all merged together. Around my neighborhood, I usually see my neighbors raking up the fallen leaves and piling them up, and that's what it reminded me off, a giant pile of red leaves.
Another very interesting color that might have only been around today (wednesday) afternoon was the giant white cloud hanging over the the Oakland, Shadyside and Squirrel Hill area. It was completely white, and then far out in the distance, you could see the white suddenly cut off by a line of blue all around in a circular manner.
6. Look around. Is there anything you can’t see or can’t see well?
By the angle of my viewpoint, and since I couldn't open the windows, I wasn't able to see the places directly under the cathedral very well, places like the Porch, and all of its outdoor diners.
7. Look around. What are the textures that you see? How do they feel to you?
Looking at the giant mass of clouds in the sky was interesting, (this was wednesday afternoon). Normally, when you stare at clouds, your mind ends up trying to perceive some sort of shape in them, but since it was pretty much impossible to see the entire cloud as a whole, it felt like I was literally looking at a white ocean. Being so high up just added to the experience.
8. Let your mind wander. Where does it go? What do you think about and how is that related to the space around you?
It was past lunchtime and I had not eaten so I was actually looking at various food places around the area, deciding where to eat. So I ended up looking at Chipotle and then remembered that Supercuts was right beside it and I needed to get a hair cut soon. It was probably because I had a view of pretty much all the places in the area that I usually hang about so my mind just drifted into reminiscence of the fun memories I have of each place I looked at (outside of CMU clearly..)
9. If you attention shifts, what has it landed on? Why do you think your eye moved to this location?
It always lands on the cloud of smoke rising from near the intersection of Craig and Forbes on the route to Scheneley from that intersection. I've forgotten what causes that cloud of smoke but my focus kept returning to it. Maybe because it seemed out of place, or maybe because the vertical movement of the smoke was in contrast to the horizontal movement of everyone down below.
What was your initial visual impression of the space you chose?
The sight of the city of Pittsburgh from the cathedral always reminds me of how much of this city i don't know about. Even after living here for 3 years, and going to some of the more obscure restaurants and attractions in the city, I never really ventured out of my safe zone here. I also realized that there are really a lot of hills in Pittsburgh (although not at the level of San Francisco).
How did you respond to it physiologically (where the eye moved to) and psychologically (in how you perceived and responded to the visual scene)?
Physiologically, my eyes kept on seeking out the places and locations that I myself regularly frequent. Perhaps it stems from the sense of familiarity I get from those places, and as I look upon the city with so many unfamiliar sights, my mind is trying to take refuge in the places that I know. I especially kept looking in the direction of my house and the CMU campus.
Psychologically, since I kept looking at places that I frequented, I thought of my memories there a lot, and thereafter my perception of each location seemed to match the tone of my memories spent there. Baker Hall for one, seemed really gloomy to me and since most of my hardest math classes took place there, I can see why. I was also looking at Flagstaff Hill right beside it, and to me, the hill seemed really lonely at that time since there was no one there. Most of the times I've been on that hill was when there were a lot of people there: sledding with friends, buggy, picnics, the Holi festival, and numerous other events. So once again, my memories of that place made me look at the empty hill, and even despite its vibrant fall colors, made me perceive it as sort of still.
What did you notice by the end of the experience that you didn't notice initially? Why?
Towards the end, maybe the final five minutes, I realized that the whole time, I had actually been looking down at the city but there was a whole different world right above me. So this was when I looked up and found myself staring at the largest mass of clouds I had seen in a while. It was one giant cloud, and the sky was white until a bit into the distance, where the white was suddenly cut off in a straight line, and then blue. It was truly like an ocean of clouds. The funny thing was how it was right there the whole time but I had not noticed it. I think the reason for this might have been my state of mind. I had gone up there thinking of the view of the city from there and had completely neglected the sky. Perhaps because of my limited viewpoint, what I actually saw was limited as well. This is another form of selective viewing maybe, just seeing what you want to see. It was only when I let my mind and view drift that I finally noticed the sky.
My viewing experience was from the 35th floor of the cathedral of learning.