Unconscious Places - Thomas Struth and the Architecture of the City

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Title: Unconscious Places - Thomas Struth and the Architecture of the City
Authors: Campbell, Hugh
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/5871
Date: Apr-2014
Abstract: At the 2012 Venice Biennale, Common Ground, an extensive selection of photographs by the German artist Thomas Struth was displayed at intervals along the length of the Arsenale, punctuating the architectural installations and exhibits. Struth’s scrupulous, sober, lucid photographs became a kind of recurring register against which the explorations and propositions of the participating architects were to be measured. Encompassing more than thirty years’ work and a geographical spread from Lima to Tokyo, and including both black and white and colour images, the photographs focused not on signature buildings or new set-pieces but rather on the ordinary fabric of the city, and included buildings of varying age and quality as well as the accumulated evidence of occupation and use. A larger selection of images appeared in the simultaneous publication Unconscious Places. The reprise of the title of Struth’s very first exhibition catalogue, published in1979, emphasised the longevity of Struth’s project, understood in Richard Sennett’s accompanying essay as the bringing to detailed attention of episodes in the urban landscape which would otherwise be absorbed unconsciously. Although usually associated with the notionally 'objective' documentary methods of his teachers Bernd and Hille Becher, Struth’s practice, as he describes it, is in fact much more alert to the psychology of both viewer and photographer. His description of the resulting photographs as 'urban portraits' extends this psychologising to the built fabric itself and finds echoes in broader theories of the relationship between the architecture of the city and the unconscious, from Freud to Halbwachs to Rossi.By exploring such connections, this paper hopes to elucidate the nature and potential of the encounter staged at the Biennale between Struth’s photography and contemporary architectural practice. What precisely is an 'unconscious place'? And how might the deliberate depiction of such spaces inform the conscious shaping of their future?
Type of material: Conference Publication
Publisher: Society of Architectural Historians
Copyright (published version): 2014 the Author
Keywords: Camera;Photography;Psychology;Architecture
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Conference Details: Society of Architectural Historians 67th annual meeting, Heuston, Texas, USA, 9-13 April, 2014
Appears in Collections:Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy Research Collection

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