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Visual environment. Homogeneous visual field
Speaking of visible urban environment, it is worth mentioning that in the near future a
half of the population of the globe will live in cities and towns. By the end of this
century the number of townsfolk will amount to 51%, in 30 years - 60%.
Rampant urbanization separates a human being from the nature and place him
in stone jungles giving birth to a great number of social (drug addiction,
alcoholism, crimes, whoredom) and ecological problems (congestion of population,
water, air pollution, traffic jams) [M.Ya.Lemeshev, 1991, 1994; N.N.Lukyanchikov, 1995;
G.A.Yagodin, L.G.Tretyakova, 1990]. K. Dokshadis, Greek
architect, said the following words about the problem of urbanization: "To neglect
a simple idea that a city should be created for a human being is a serious mistake.
The shell itself is less cared of than an organism which lives inside it. And all
that results in that the shell will strangle the shellfish".
Fig. 15. A bare face creates homogeneous field in a city. An eye "slides" along a bare wall
but fails to "fix" it since there no details for vision fixation (the photo taken by the author)
In Russia the volume of large-panel building construction amounts to nearly 60% of
the whole construction volume. It has become a massive one, and nowadays constitutes
a decisive factor in creating an outward appearance of our cities. The very fact is
taken as a positive phenomenon, since, thanks to such an approach, housing construction
is making some progress. However, an ubiquitous application of such erection technique
considerably changes the outward appearance of our cities with the problem of visual
environment being more and more acute. Urban environment creates a lot of homogeneous
visible fields which, in particular, create flanks of buildings (Fig. 15).
Fig. 16. A face of a dwelling house decorated with paintings. Green leaves and
varicolored butterfly - natural elements - make urban visual environment more
diversified (city of Uddomlya, Tver region, the photo taken by the author)
When looking at such bare wall, an eye has nothing "to catch" after successive saccade.
If a human being finds himself near such wall at a distance of 40 meters, it will
screen his view in all directions (along the horizontal line - 20-300, and along
the vertical one - 40-450) while the major part of saccades (86%) has the amplitude
of up to 15(, and an eye generates 2-3 saccades per second. That means that if
a human being looks at such surface just for 3 seconds, during this time 6-9
saccades are generated, and all of them fall on a bare wall with no elements to
be fixed by an eye. Such situation may be compared with a perception when a
man makes a next step and does not feel he is standing on a firm ground. That
is the case with an eye as well, when it "falls into a precipice" nearly ten
times within 3 seconds. It easy to imagine how unpleasant such situation which
inevitably leads to discomfort. In urban development practice there are examples
of wallpainting (Fig. 16) which enables to get rid of homogeneous fields but
wall painting has not been widely implemented yet.
Fig. 17. "Slavyansky bazar" hotel with its reach architecture (1871) creates beautiful
visible field. After saccade an eye "catches upon" a lot of various details of decor
(Moscow, Nikolskaya street)
We may be convinced in the live issue of videoecology by comparing two buildings.
Looking at two photos, one feels firsthand how differs the view of "Slavyansky bazar"
hotel (Fig. 17) as compared with a faceless modern building (Fig.18). Visual field created
by the hotel is favorable for eyes; here there is everything for their adequate
work: diversity of details (bows, columns, curved lines, modeling), interesting
silhouette, first floor saturated with details (windows, signboards, porches).
Fig. 18. Homogeneous visible field was created by a bare wall of a factory building.
On a large surface there no elements an eye could "catch upon" after successive saccade
(Moscow, the photo taken by the author)
In addition, as far as aesthetics
is concerned the building has got a secret being an essence of beauty and glory. Whereas
a modern building lacks a secret, it is clear at first sight and even from the first
saccade since, instead of a diverse decor, an eye sees a huge homogeneous surface, and
a direct, as a string, line instead of a silhouette.
This difference consists in the following:
As result, one does not want to look at a modern building, and one cannot stop looking at an
ancient one. Other verses written by P. Vyazemsky will be to the point here:
as for saturation with elements - their small number in a modern building and great number
in an ancient one;
- as for the structure of elements - great number of direct lines and right angles
in a modern building, and great number of acute angles and curved lines in an ancient one;
- as for surface sizes - one large surface in a modern building and a lot of small surfaces
in an ancient one;
- as for silhouette - conventional silhouette in a modern building with a simple direct line
with no element, and complex and diversiform one in an ancient one.
"...This exciting magic picture
The poet found beautiful words after seeing Venice, - "catches on your eye...".
That, in our opinion, is nothing but "to catch with an eye" something and calm down.
As we have told you before, an eye very urgently needs to fix a look for some time
and minimize saccadic amplitude (Fig. 17). The poet managed to show the essence of the
physiological and psychological phenomenon. Every his line has a deep meaning:
"Noisy crowded trouble's current You'll forget, retiring from Full again of admiration...".
That is very important for a townsman who has to stay in stone jungles for a long time.
Bare walls of multistorey houses cannot create conditions for such retirement.
Catches on your eye and mind.
And, absorbed in love and vision
You'll be frozen stay in front.
Noisy crowded trouble's current
You'll forget, retiring from
Full again of admiration
Want sightseeing goes on..."