The proposed mapping, representation, and interpretation of key Cistercian monasteries presents an opportunity to analyze that which may only be seen through the observance of light, ritual, and silence—made clear by their presence as much as by the variables that break their consistency—to make visible that which has perhaps become invisible. Layers of liturgical ritual, light, stone, silence, and sound are compounded in the Abbey . . . “they are three and four dimensional pure ‘perceptions.’” As landscapes may be considered over the course of a year, the cycle of a monastery exists within a period of twenty-four hours. The mapping of these spaces requires observation beyond the second dimension. It is as necessary to analyze them as much by their proportion and siting as by the frequency of footsteps in a hallway and the steady melodic voices of monks chanting in unison breaking penitent silence.
Certain studies in drawing by Claude Monet and Le Corbusier are defined by the act of representing an object repetitively over a period time in order to extract an essence. They serve as precedents for the proposed research. Monet, in his multiple iterations of haystacks and the Rouen Cathedral, captures the colors of the seasons, temperatures, morning fog, and the color of light. His framed view of the subject, shifted slightly each time, presents the object in a new light. Beatriz Colomina notes in Privacy and Publicity Le Corbusier’s method of drawing rapidly while traveling and redrawing images from newspapers “obliged [him] to select, to reduce to a few lines the details of the image. The preformed image thus enters Le Corbusier’s creative process, but interpreted.” The importance of travel and firsthand observation in understanding culture and ritual and developing contemporary translations manifests itself in the religious architecture of Le Corbusier. Through developing a critical methodology for approaching sight and allowing subtle variation within a given frame of reference, I can expand upon the immediacy and exactitude of the camera’s eye—capturing and translating a meaningful essence of place.