Serendipity FS2014 – Tracking Public Space

Serendipity FS15 – Landscape Visuals


This elective course and thesis elective in the spring semester 2015 will investigate the ice deserts of the swiss alps.


The landscape we live in was originally formed by glaciers, covering the complete surface of Switzerland. This time is long gone, today, their marks are still visible all over this country and it’s surroundings. But with the global warming not only the sea level will rise, but the ice will disappear.

To understand todays landscape, we will travel back in time and visit a still existing glacier. We will move close to this colossus of ice and investigate it’s texture and surface, and it’s border with the surroundings.

How can the use of different media grasp our viewpoint of this phenomena? What is the best way, to catch the power of a glacier in a picture and how can we expose the changing structure of this ice?
The glacier of Morteratsch will be our experimental field to try out two types of landscape recordings: We will take pictures with an large-format photo camera and develop it’s analog negatives. This will give us an idea, what it means to prepare a good shot without knowing immediately how it turns out. On the other hand, we will make Laser Scans and create a highly precise 3D Modell of our glacier, so we can combine pictures and videos thereafter.

How do these different media effect our perception of landscape? Are they complementary in the interpretation of landscape, or can the new digital media replacing the old analog photo technique?

We will make a weekend trip to the glacier and investigate it’s topology in a new way. With the help of a professional mountain guide we will enter this huge surface of ice and make our recordings.

The Chair will provide some financial support, still the participants are ask to pay some costs (overnight stay, food and drinks) by themselves. Admission will be limited to 16 students only due to equipment and time. Participation on all dates of the course is mandatory. Trekking to reach the glacier will require the participants to have some experience in trekking or hiking and have some basic equipment.

(The elective course is mandatory to do the thesis elective)

What can we learn from this landscape and the process of land forming? Where are the critical points in the slow movement of ice and how can we make it visible? What could be a possible scenario at the end of this process? The students are asked to formulate their own questions and images and work on them during a block seminar in June.

The students can choose their way to present their thesis, the range goes from new videos and pictures of the changed or combined digital landscape, experimenting with different analog methods or they can make real land art projects at the location.

To get an idea on how a Laserscan output could look like, see a recent project: the Gotthard Exhibition at the Architecture Biennale in Venice 2014



Prof. Christophe Girot and Matthias Vollmer
With support from:
Johannes Rebsamen and Pascal Werner


Matthias Vollmer


COURSE BLOG: See the on going work from students




19.02.2015, 12:45 – 14:30 Introduction to Elective Course (HIL H 40.9)

26.02.2015, 12:45 – 14:30 Visit Exhibition “Landscapes” at Galerie Bildhalle

05.03.2015, 12:45 – 14:30 Introduction to Camera Technique

07.03.2015, Workshop on site (full day)
08.03.2015, Workshop on site (full day)

12.03.2015, 12:45 – 14:30 Introduction to Film developing (ETH Photolabor)

19.03.2015, NO COURSE (Seminar week)

26.03.2015, 12:45 – 14:30 Work on projects, individual meetings

02.04.2015, 12:45 – 14:30 Mid-Crit, presenting work in progress

09.04.2015, NO COURSE (Easter Holidays)

16.04.2015, 12:45 – 14:30 Work on projects, individual meetings

23.04.2015, 12:45 – 14:30 Work on projects, individual meetings

30.04.2015, 12:45 – 14:30 Final Crit

June 2015: 2 Weeks with Workshop on site (Elective Course is mandatory)