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Escherian Stairwell
May 3, 2013 5:44 AM   Subscribe

Take a tour of RIT's Escherian Stairwell, an architectural puzzle that has confounded students and visitors for years.

The staircase may not be real, but the myth can be. This failed kickstarter project hoped to explore myth making in the internet age.
posted by fontophilic (22 comments total) 19 users marked this as a favorite

 
Some pretty good editing and acting in that first link. The acting, especially, is convincing from a "just regular people" angle. The first girl to try the stairwell was especially "real" in her reactions.
posted by Thorzdad at 5:56 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


ok...ok...so is it a real thing or just camera tricks. and if its real how the hell does it work?
posted by ShawnString at 5:57 AM on May 3, 2013


Not real. Camera trick.
posted by item at 5:58 AM on May 3, 2013


We had a stairwell like this at my college, too. If you walked backwards down the Art Building's stairwell at midnight on the night of a full moon, you would be transported into another dimension.
posted by Elly Vortex at 6:05 AM on May 3, 2013


Posted April 30th eh...

Guess it was just in time to scrape the end of... APRIL FUELS
posted by ACair at 6:06 AM on May 3, 2013


I see they have women at RIT now. How different than when I was an undergrad there. But the geekiness remains. Some things never change.
posted by tommasz at 6:07 AM on May 3, 2013


The acting, especially, is convincing from a "just regular people" angle.

I'm betting that the initial reactions are real, and the "host" is actually two identically-dressed twins.
posted by mhoye at 6:26 AM on May 3, 2013 [1 favorite]


This is great.... and well done.
posted by HuronBob at 6:36 AM on May 3, 2013


I'm betting that the initial reactions are real, and the "host" is actually two identically-dressed twins.

Interesting theory. I concluded that there's a splice right where the Asian woman reaches the top of the staircase, and it's cleverly obscured by the fact that his speech crosses the splice (does that make sense?). Two bits of film are spliced together but the audio makes it seem they are not.

But maybe the identical twins idea is correct.
posted by Unified Theory at 6:44 AM on May 3, 2013


Yeah, what convinced me was the real reactions of people and awkward acting. If you just pulled some random drama student and asked her to do the reaction that "Rosie" did, I doubt you'd get anything nearly as good.

I also think twins were used. One set being the "host" and the other twins were the guy/s in the hat. I don't think a whole lot of jump cuts were used.
posted by fontophilic at 6:47 AM on May 3, 2013


Clearly no physics/engineering students in the crowd. My first reaction would to gather materials to build a circular trough for water descending the stairs and a waterwheel generator. First law of thermodynamics? Hah! We don't need no stinking laws of thermodynamics.
posted by tdismukes at 6:54 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


RIT has a top-flight imaging science program, built with money and know-how from Kodak back when it was a going concern. This a very clever way to show off its chops.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:37 AM on May 3, 2013


Also:

Reality had one weakness: STAIRS!
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:39 AM on May 3, 2013


I posted this to facebook, someone replied "OK, how did they build that?". I felt an answer was called for so I did a bit of research and posted:

"To the best of my understanding it was done utilizing some of the more obscure ideas developed by Christian Norberg-Schulz while he was at MIT. However I also suspect that there is a blending of Hawking's thoughts on Maxwell's equations of light and the relativistic wave equation."

Feel free to use that simple explanation if it would be helpful. I would advise that you not actually touch it without gloves because, well, bullshit.
posted by HuronBob at 9:19 AM on May 3, 2013 [3 favorites]


RIT has radically changed since I was there in the mid-80s.

But still as orange as ever. And just as many bricks -- more, probably.
posted by Frayed Knot at 9:47 AM on May 3, 2013


Oh, meant to mention the most radical change: http://www.rit.edu/president/semesters.html
posted by Frayed Knot at 9:48 AM on May 3, 2013


That is not a particularly flattering or reassuring picture of RIT's president. (At least not against that background.)
posted by maryr at 10:33 AM on May 3, 2013


Gotta be twins.
posted by zardoz at 2:01 PM on May 3, 2013


THIS:
"Amazing that in a world where people can watch Lord of the Rings with all its fantasy CGI people will watch this and think it's real."
posted by bdz at 2:38 PM on May 3, 2013


Showed this to my 12 year old son and he went hunting down the best explanation - which comes from RIT itself: http://www.rit.edu/news/story_photo.php?photo_id=15212
It took a while to convince him it wasn't real.
He wanted to believe.
posted by IncognitoErgoSum at 4:20 PM on May 3, 2013


In my occult architecture days, I used to hunt down places like this. Escherian stairwells are relatively common as far as non-Euclidean structural elements go—though considerably less so since US building codes effectively banned them as hazards to means of egress. Topological anomalies are not harmless phenomena; they should be approached with caution. Every now and then a careless "urban explorer" will take premature leave of this spacetime when what they assume to be a common Escherian stairwell turns out to be a far less forgiving Danielewskian stairwell.
posted by dephlogisticated at 4:46 PM on May 3, 2013 [5 favorites]


dephlogisticated: "In my occult architecture days, I used to hunt down places like this. Escherian stairwells are relatively common as far as non-Euclidean structural elements go—though considerably less so since US building codes effectively banned them as hazards to means of egress. Topological anomalies are not harmless phenomena; they should be approached with caution. Every now and then a careless "urban explorer" will take premature leave of this spacetime when what they assume to be a common Escherian stairwell turns out to be a far less forgiving Danielewskian stairwell."

Forget that - What if the stairwell turns out to be a three dimensional Lament Configuration?

DO NONE OF YOU STOP TO THINK OF THE DANGERS?
posted by Samizdata at 5:56 AM on May 4, 2013


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