Image of Vacancy

A current project/effort of mine:

Vacancy is a word that can be traced back to the the latin vaco.  Vaco meant to be empty, to have leisure.  What then, can be said of our contemporary issue of vacant lots/spaces? 


adj.ˈvā-kənt  1: not filled or used; empty.  2: freedom from job or responsibility; time off. 

The former of these two meanings, is understood in American English, while the latter is understood in British English and French.  This explains the usage of the word vacation as time away from responsibility.  


Image is a confusing term, for a similarly confusing object.  But let us look to the origin of this to get our bearings. 

Image is derived from the latin imago, which has two meanings, 1: A sexually mature insect after undergoing metamorphosis.  2: An idealized concept of a loved one, typically formed in childhood and retained unaltered throughout adult life.  Especially, how a child views his or her own parent.

Further definitions for image:



A picture that is produced by a camera, artist, mirror, etc.

An Apparition (obsolete)

A Reproduction of the form of a person or an object.

The idea that people have about someone or something

A symbol; an emblem.



To picture mentally

To mirror or reflect


Other relevant definitions:

ne·glectˈglekt  : From the latin negleger. Which means to not pickup, ( neg = not | leger = choose/pick up )


v.ˈren-dər : : From reddere, to give back. ( re= back | dare = give )

Action of restoring

A translation

Repeat, Say again

Extracting or melting of fat, usually leading to conversion into usable byproduct ie. waste animal tissue into soaps.

Reproduction, Representation



Connecting some dots

I have always been enamored with the abandoned.  Especially architectural artifacts.  Warehouses. Powerstations. Factories. Grunge.  But what can be said/done for these places?


In the current environment, I see two possibilities, both of which I do not believe are the best uses.   

Possibility number one:  A sad, but pretty photograph. 

Possibility number two:  Renovation into loft-style apartments.


What are the problems with these two solutions? 

No. 1 — Although I appreciate and enjoy* the black and white, HDR, photography of vacant spaces that carry an eerie but beautiful aura with them, I don’t think these photographs do any favors for those spaces.  In fact, what these photographs do is: keep the spaces in a period of devoid of motion.  The emptiness is reinforced, and what better way to insist on lifelessness than a grayscale, still image

*I myself am guilty of taking said photos, please don’t crucify me.


No. 2 — Loft-style apartments.  This phrase gets anyone excited.  Anyone.  Including me.  However, what disappoints me is how these spaces tend to turn out once renovated.  I find that the memory and authenticity of the former building is left by the wayside, and the shiny, polished lofts might as well be in a newly constructed building.  Here it is inspiring that a place that was once lifeless can be set in motion once again, but I am troubled with the predictability of the result of these transformations.  Especially because each abandoned place has a unique history [relation of incidents, greek historia a learning or knowing by inquiry] 

My idea is to intervene via these observations: Can I use images to imagine new possibilities for abandoned places?


Moving Forward  — breathing life into the empty

I would like to expand my interest with these terms into a campaign about abandoned places in Philadelphia.  To begin this process, I’ll provide links to current movements/organizations that are invested in reviving vacant/abandoned places, as well as briefly list how these groups function.  The reason for doing this is to understand how large collections of people work on this topic in order to frame my position as an individual working on the same topic, but from a different perspective.  



As an architecture student, not a legally/ethically obliged organization, I will assemble a series of images that reinterpret abandoned sites.


I propose to begin by taking a set of photographs of a particular abandoned location.  From here, I will take a singular image of the current state of the site and reimagine it from a number of vantage points.  To construct these vantage points I will assume the role of many stereotypes, and envision the place through their respective eyes.  (Stereotypes: Developer, Hipster, Innocent-uncorrupted Child, Middle-aged Couple, Empty-Nesters, Vagrant, Drug Addict, etc.)  It is important to present one building via multiple lenses in order to broaden the spectrum of possibilities for its rebirth.  This is the advantage the renegade/cavalier/maverick architecture student has over the professional organization, and what an advantage it is.


Here is a list abandoned sites in Philadelphia that I will begin to choose from for my campaign.

Packaging the Propoganda

One potential way to package this might be to set up a monopod, on site, exactly where the photograph was taken.  And look through a viewfinder that allows for multiple slides to be viewed so that a user can see all the imagined possibilities on-site in realtime. This mechanism would draw inspiration from this child’s toy 


Examples of typical abandoned photography:


There is more to think of

Who is my audience?

What is my goal? (more specifically)

What is my product? (how is it packaged)

How will I manage this schizophrenic photoshop charrette? (perhaps the schizophrenic area will not be difficult)