The latest instalment of our new series of AR Reading Lists: seven carefully chosen pieces from our archive, free for registered users
With the advent of photography our consumption of architecture came into crisis. Photography construes architecture as image and places ‘a copy of the original into situations which would be out of reach for the original itself’, as Walter Benjamin wrote in 1935. A void opened up between the building and its representation. Freed from being rooted in a context, the image is open for interpretation, manipulation and for dissemination.
Photography was the ideal medium for Modern architecture. Its sleekness was sophisticated and it never lied, but it liberated the building from the tyrannies of time, of weathering, of use. Now, through flashy architectural photography the building can be sterilised and made into a shiny product for capital. The ambiguity of the photo is also a source of endless inspiration, and its easy distribution offers a collectivised way of seeing. This week’s reading list looks at the tangled relationship between photography and architecture. Is architecture inseparable from its image?
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- Shattered glass: the history of architectural photography, AR December 2013, Nicholas Olsberg
‘Nothing better suited a long exposure and a limited depth of focus quite so well as the wall of a building’
- The secret photography of Le Corbusier, AR October 2013, Andrew Mead
‘You might suspect so when you study the images from Corb’s first period of photography, where buildings predominate, with the vernacular architecture of the Balkans as prominent as the Acropolis or Hagia Sophia’
- The polemical snapshot: architecture in the age of social media, AR Jan 2015, Tom Wilkinson
‘Photographs showing unflattering angles, frustrated users, shoddy finishes, premature ruination and fuck-the-neighbours attitude, are still invisible, at least in the architectural press’
- Interview with photographer Iwan Baan, AR March 2014, Simon Esterson
‘For me it’s very important to look at a full spectrum, from working with people like Zaha Hadid or Rem Koolhaas or Herzog & de Meuron, to how people build for themselves out of pure necessity’
- Andreas Gursky and an economy of scale, AR April 2018, Eleanor Beaumont
‘Like a Hieronymus Bosch painting teeming with titillating detail and subplots, everything is happening, all over the planet, all at the same time’
- Photography in the eyes of the beholder, AR November 2014, Richard Wentworth
‘We are excellent detectives of prurience, shallowness, condescension, propaganda, love and concern’
- A window into country life: Traverser by Raymond Derpadon, AR April 2018, Manon Mollard
‘By associating personal impressions, sometimes just a few words-long, with photographs taken on the road, Depardon creates a unique relationship between words and images to tell layered and intimate stories’
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