In this studio subject, students travelled to Los Angeles to engage with the problem of fieldwork in a self-conscious reappraisal of why architects travel to conduct research, what tools they use documenting architecture and cities, and what influence new media and open-source information storage and sharing has on architectural research and its display. While overseas, students worked in-residence at a local gallery, producing a site for discursive exchange where local figures were brought in to discuss student research as the work unfolded. At the same time, students were out in the LA field, visiting offices, studios, art spaces, exhibitions and events.
One of the student projects that emerged from the examination of these themes was a study by Beatrice Myatt of the Getty Villa in Pacific Palisades. Throughout history, students of architecture have embarked on fieldwork, from the Grand Tours of classical Europe to the late twentieth century study tours of Los Angeles. Myatt’s project began with a straightforward question: Now, with the ability to experience architecture from all over the world online, is it still necessary to conduct research in the field with the availability and ubiquity of this information?
An initial drawing was used to document every surface of the villa, with the resolution of detail in this drawing determined by the amount of information available online for each surface. A final drawing series mapped the images produced by amateur versus professional photographers to determine if either favoured a particular view or vista of the site. This process revealed the biases embedded within the collection of images and exposed the limits of remote documentation, which could then be compared against the actual experience of the site and building when visited as part of the travelling studio.