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Observe and Quantify

Observe and Quantify was a data collection project for my Spring Studio class. On the day of the briefing, I immediately had the idea of collecting photos of the sky. The sky is organic and unique almost every hour. At the time, I still couldn’t visualize the final output, but I knew it had to work somehow.

I thought deeply about the project on my walk home from campus. I realized that while the idea of collecting photos of the sky was appealing, it seemed too straight-forward, too easy. Anyone with a phone camera could replicate it. So, I figured I’d add a narrative, some nuance that would grant me ownership.

I decided to include my little brother, who currently resides in Brooklyn.

freezing our tropical asses off (L-R, Chuck, and Manu)

I called him up as soon as I arrived home. I told him I needed his help, that it would be a “bro project.” He accepted immediately, so I devised a set of rules that would highlight our relationship.

Here’s what I came up with:

  • Photos are categorized into 2: Work and Play
  • Work photos consist of those captured between 9 am-5 pm; each day indicating a consecutive hour (day one — 9 am, day two — 10 am, day three — 11 am, and so on, resetting back to 9 am upon reaching 5 pm)
  • Play photos would be taken at 4:20 pm (the hour we would spend together while living under the same roof…go figure)
  • In short, take 2 photos a day
  • Set alarms so as not to forget

The project commenced on March 5, 2021, and officially ended on April 1 — a total of 4 weeks or 28 days. By the end of the project, I would have compiled 112 photos of the sky between Brookline and Brooklyn.

mind map

Since we grew up in the same household, shared a room for almost 20 years, was looked after by the same mother, I decided to name the project Mother Sky.

Now adults, instead of our mom watching over us, we now have the sky. The sky is the constant no matter how far apart we are. It’s a symbol of our relationship as brothers, of our mom, and where we come from. It’s the common thread despite all the responsibilities that distance us from each other.

Work Photos
Play Photos
Work and Play combined
the complete set

With all the data I collected, I decided to do a poster mural. Its aim was to add some context, help the audience understand the project, as well as our relationship as brothers.

installing (thanks, Sidd, for the photos)

The top row represents me/Brookline, the bottom—my brother/Brooklyn, and the center row is where we converge, showing all the skies together—the Mother Sky.

final installation at the 808 hallway

I wrote a short description of the project, and along with it, a QR code. The code sends whoever scans it to my website, with more information on Mother Sky, simple kinetic versions of the posters, and a montage of home movies of me and my brother.

The song featured is Wakin’ on a Pretty Day by Kurt Vile. It’s the “bro song.”