19 mai 2010

Showing people on the architecture photographies, or not ?

Arkitekturfotografiets fremtid - The future of architecture photography
an investigation and debat on its past, present and future
Opening to the exhibition A second Opinion at DAC
in collaboration with cphX and Copenhagen photo festival
Read more about speakers on cphx.dk

Well of course, the subject is deeper, more complexe and has passed that superficial question long ago. Nevertherless the debat is about life and use of our architectural creations expressed by a media -more or less artistical, creative or profit and publicity minded- and finally published. The circle is closed: expressing and showing life for the everyday users of the building.

What defines life and what defines if the building functions? The aesthetics of it, the use and deterioration of it, the energical or economical audit, the resemblance to a 3D image made before any permit was given, the expression of some tortured architect mind looking for a meaning in his profession...The opinion might change radically depending on who is asked! But the building is part of an urban space, part of the citizens' everyday life, so it HAS to bring an extra value somehow. This condition usually is considered fulfilled if the building or site "lives".
Here comes next quetsion...

How to show life in architecture and urban spaces? How to communicate it? By the play of shadow and light on the materials, by waiting for rush hour to take your pictures, by setting every detail and controlling every appearing object and subject of the pictures (refering to the American photographer Cruz), by suggesting some forms and contrasts in a blurry picture (refering to Japanese photographer), by showing the mess in an appartment or by showing its pristine design with a design chair in the corner. Should architecture be exposed as a product or as an other element of the photography? Should the photographer's work be like a promoter branding and selling this product or an eye aknowledging art and harmony behind facts? Can he be both? Should he be a cameleon to his client's desideratas (being the architect or the magazine editor)?

The presentations and debat brought us to a consideration: everyone wants something new and would like to reveal its work differently. The architect looks for a critical eye enabling him to evoluate in his own field. The photographer has to be that eye and has soemthing to say in a certain way defined by his vision or opinion. The editor would like to report both visions in order to give the reader and citizen an objective base for its understanding and opinion-making of what is happening in his city. But that means someone has to take responsibility for his work: the architect by accepting critic, the photographer by standing up to his vision and the editor by investing in the right material and photographs.

Here comes the tricky part: "it's his fault that I am unable to do so". The architect needs to get clients, thus to sell and show how good he is with plastics, aesthetics and form making. He also needs to reassure himself and his ego on what ge is doing. The photographer needs clients so he does what he is asked and delivers images that aren't always arcording to his view. The editor needs to run his business too: he needs money if he should hire the photographers and is a bit short so he just asks the architect to give him some nice pictures and that's it. The reader says "Wow!" or "What?"...

In the end, I think it is up to all parts to challenge himself with his own discipline in order to show the public that architecture is an art of plasticity but also a social art, an art enhancing or preventing life, an art of high technical apsects, to show the public that photographers aren't just observers but have a history to tell about that same architecture and its urban context (well natural context also but here we were talking much about Copenhagen), to show the public that editors aren't just on the architects side, all together in an hermetic sect, but revealing architectural facts as a good reporter would do.
Good examples of collaboration between architects, photographers and editors has been seen in France and Switzerland with the firms Lacaton Vassal and Herzog & de Meuron.

That was also the conclusion of the debat and the opening to the exhibition...Enjoy it!

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