Representing Space: Photography and Architecture

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There is a non-elitist, democratic quality to a humble piece of photographic paper, and to a camera itself. In its digital form, photography makes it even more obvious that it is a medium that transcends physical and social boundaries of the culture: it is at once a singular artistic piece, or thousands of copies of an image, a personal memento, or a political statement. It is also the medium that conveys our sense of physical reality and space in a magically flattened, two-dimensional form.

Its ability to record and transform light, makes photography closely related to architecture making process: camera obscura, a dark room transformed by an image, is a concept that has both spatial and photographic consequences. Or maybe camera lucida is a more appropriate description of that phenomenon, as proposed by Barthes. The lure of the image lies in its presumed truthful depiction of reality, yet, one is always taken by unexpected quality revealed in a photograph. While affirming the notion that a photographer can produce an image equivalent to an architect’s intentions, German philosopher Gerhdt Boehme proposes that “the origin of the art of photography lies precisely at the point where there is nothing that can be pictured”.

This paper examines a broad range of issues dealing with relationship of architecture and photography in regard to representation of space, using contemporary examples. Investigations of the use of photography in the design process are of particular interest. How does a photograph, in addition to representing architecture in terms of its physical qualities, capture its invisible qualities as well? How does one photograph space? What is recorded, what is edited, and what is blurred, in that process? And how can one define a boundary between an artistic and architectural intervention?


Keywords: Photography, Architecture, Space, Representation of Space
Stream: Arts Theory and Criticism
Presentation Type: Paper Presentation in English
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Magdalena Garmaz

Associate Professor, Design and Construction
School of Architecture
College of Architecture, Auburn University

Auburn University, AL, USA

Magdalena Garmaz was born in Split, Croatia. She received her architecture degree from Zagreb University, and had practiced for several years prior to doing graduate studies in theory and history of architecture at the University of Cincinnati. She has been teaching at the Auburn University School of Architecture since 1990. Magdalena’s recent research addresses issues of textile and architecture relationship, and is reflected in both her teaching and design work, most notably in the Quilting Studio for Mozell Benson, a collaborative effort with prof. Sheri Schumacher and Design-Build program. The work from her design studios was recognized in Project Helps Students Rethink Material World article in the Metropolis magazine, and it will be featured in the upcoming book Designing with Materials, MICA and Princeton Architectural Press, 2009, by E. Lupton and I. Alesina. Magdalena uses her set design as a way of testing textiles in different space making contexts (Metamorphosis -2007, and Festival of Shorts -2004) . She is recipient of number of grants and fellowships, including Graham Foundation Grant for her writing on the work of Slovenian architect Joze Plecnik. In 2007, she was Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome, Italy. She is recipient of 2008 Alabama Council on the Arts Fellowship Grant.

Ref: A09P0331