Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Essay: Constructing the View.

Now that the dust is settling on the symposium, it's time to write about some of the themes that have come up in our discussions preparing for and after it.
To complete the seminar, each student will write a 3,000 -3,500 word essay to be submitted in print  (formatted and designed to suit the subject matter, as a booklet) and soft copy as pdf by 1pm on December 16th.
The title of the essay is 'Constructing the View'. In it, each student will explore an aspect of what photography can offer architecture.
The first draft of 1,000 words with selected images is due to be published on the blog by each student by the end of the day on 23rd November.

Here are four ideas about photography that have come up in discussions that may help you develop the course of your essay this week.

1) Photography as a way of knowing the world.
When writing about his exhibition at MOMA, 'New Documents', Szarkowski describes the work of the photographers in the exhibition: (Arbus, Friedlander and Winogrand): 'Their aim has been not to reform life, but to know it, not to persuade, but to understand. The world, in spite of its terrors, is approached as the ultimate source of wonder and fascination, no less precious for being irrational and incoherent...' (see full press release here).

There is also a great documentary on Winogrand at work available partly on youtube:

2) Form and Pressure
In this essay (full text here), Shore discusses a quote from Shakespeare's Hamlet in relation to his understanding of photography:
'but then there is this final line: "[To show] the very age and body of the time his form and pressure." This is within the realm of photography. A photograph can aspire to this.'

You can listen to Shore discuss how he makes his photographs  and watch him at work here:

You can also listen to a lecture he gave for the Architectural Association in London by following this link: Photography and the Limits of Representation - Stephen Shore, The Photographer's Gallery London, 13/10/2010/

3) Photography as a way of being in the world:
In the first session of the symposium, 'Lived Space', Mark Pimlott spoke about why he takes photographs 'in this perpetually unfolding present':
'I make photographs as a kind of necessity: I want to be in the World, I want to be open to its expressions.' He quotes Shore:
'And so the pictures are reflective of the condition of a self, paying attention'.
He goes on to say:
'More than documenting, or remembering, then, the photographic attention might serve to bind us to the World, regardless of whether that attention pertains to making or looking: constructing the view is constructing the bond between the self and the World.'

4) Photography as a way of representing an idea of built space - both before and after construction

'A great building, in my opinion, must begin with the unmeasurable, go through measurable means when it is being designed, and in the end must be unmeasurable.' - Louis Kahn

4a) The Vkhutemas School in 1920s Moscow, and the student exercises using models and photography.
This work was curated by Thomas Demand for the 2012 Architecture Biennale in Venice, and he exhibited these alongside his photographs of sketch models by John Lautner, a series entitled 'Model Studies' that was also exhibited at the Graham Foundation and is discussed here.

4b) Hélene Binet's lecture at Harvard: Composing Space:

4c) House: After 5 years of living by Charles & Ray Eames: