How the mind meets architecture: what photography reveals

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Title: How the mind meets architecture: what photography reveals
Authors: Campbell, Hugh
Permanent link: http://hdl.handle.net/10197/5987
Date: Apr-2011
Abstract: In architecture, consciousness finds its own distinct echo. This paper proposes that, in its capacity to give conceptual, sensory and symbolic coherence to mere matter, architecture can be considered analogous to consciousness, which confers coherence and continuity upon the raw data of experience and sensation. It further proposes that the photographic image has a powerful ability to make evident this relationship. Charged with depicting a piece of architecture, the photographer produces images which seek to convey the concepts behind the design as much as the feeling of the finished building. In the photograph, idea and experience coalesce. Building on previous work which looked at how John Szarkowski's photos of Louis Sullivan's work encapsulate a building's art-facts and its life-facts this paper turns its attention to a number of more recent meetings between architecture and photography. As in all her work, Candida Hofer's recent photographs of David Chipperfield's work at the Neues Museum in Berlin are concerned on the one hand clearly to portray the scale and lineaments of spaces and on the other, to convey a sense of their life in time. In his large diptychs of buildings by SANAA, the Swiss photographer Walter Niedermayr manipulates the image to communicate both the experience of these dreamy, floating worlds and the aesthetic sensibility which created them. We inhabit simultaneously the minds of the creators and the visitor. Finally, in Thomas Demand's ongoing collaborations with Caruso St John, a photographic imagination concerned with the scrupulous recreation of spaces meets an architectural practice famously attentive to the specifics of spatial experience. Attesting to what Barbara Maria Stafford terms the cognitive work of images, the photographs resulting from these varied collaborations allow us access equally to the architectural work and to the cognitive processes involved in its creation and its experience. Following Whitman's famous proclamation that all architecture is what you do to it when you look upon it, this paper will ultimately argue that, equally, just looking at pictures of buildings might reveal something about the nature of conscious experience.
Type of material: Conference Publication
Keywords: Architecture;Photography;Mind consciousness
Language: en
Status of Item: Peer reviewed
Conference Details: Society of Architectural Historians, 64th annual meeting, New Orleans, Louisiana, United States of America, 13-17 April, 2011
Appears in Collections:Architecture, Planning and Environmental Policy Research Collection

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