Exposition

A Hinge: Field-testing the Relationship Between Photography and Architecture (2013)

Marc Goodwin

About this exposition

This article seeks to share the methods and preliminary results of an artistic research project in the field of architectural photography. A central concern is the representation of atmosphere in place of the standard depiction of objects. Important also is an attempt at co-design through an interview process with architects based on the notion of the dialectic. This aspect of the study is important not only for this experiment itself but is also crucial for analyzing the scalability of practices pursued in this investigation. Findings include excerpts from interviews and examples of photographs. More than just a project about photographic practices, however, this study is part of a larger investigation into the relationship that has developed between photography and architecture, focussing especially on Finland and Denmark, and the institutional practices of architects, publishers and photographers working in collaboration.
typeresearch exposition
date2013
statuspublished
affiliationAalto University
urlhttps://www.researchcatalogue.net/view/30884/30885
published inJournal for Artistic Research

comments: 2 (last entry by Jim Daichendt - 18/06/2013 at 23:34)
Ccatharina Dyrssen 18/06/2013 at 23:32

The theme of investigation is of high artistic and intellectual interest, the submission exposes an important field for practice based and artistic research, and the quality and variation of the images themselves provide a strong potential for explorative investigations. The fact that the project is situated within photography and not in architecture is important as it assigns an active role to photography instead of a more conventional representational one.

 

The intense photographs by Mark Goodwin constitute a congenial entry to the PhD research topic: to enquiry into the relationship between architecture as experienced space and communicated projects, and the possibilities of photography not only to meet with these architectural aims, but at length to co-design, together with architects, photography in a closer dialectic process within institutional practices and collaboration of architects, publishers and photographers. The point of reference here is the concept of atmosphere as described by primarily Jean Baudrillard, Gernot Böhme, Peter Zumthor and Juhani Pallasmaa, with the main idea that grounding photography in this concept would yield a shift in focus of architectural photography: Could photography, in dialogue with architects, help identifying and synthesizing distinct atmospheres and, particularly, could it communicate atmosphere of place in architectural works rather than displaying them as objects?

 

The submission itself mainly concerns a material used in interviews with architects and a reflection on the outcomes of these dialogues. The study, focused on six examples of contemporary Danish and Finnish architecture, is described as part of a larger investigation, outlined above. The specific question is if the described method and its feedback loops may extend the relationship between photographer and architect, and influence the photo assignment brief to generate more unexpected images and to reify the atmosphere as an essential aspect of architecture and its communication with the public. By photographing the selected buildings, also under construction, the excellent images demonstrate an interesting variation on the case themes, and is set as a multiple material for dialogue and choices in interviews with architects. Thus, the study aims to push possibilities to go beyond conventional assignment briefs for photographers and also make photography an active agent, "an important nexus between artist and viewer at the final stage of the project".

 

The author launches two central concepts: atmographs ─ the atmosphere photographed, or atmosphere perceived in a photo; and archmospheres ─ addressing the atmosphere intended by the architect for a certain space of work. He admits himself that these may be "clumsy neologisms", but even if disregarding the linguistic distortions, this kind of conceptualization may, if pursued beyond the initial study, lock the perspective into taxonomies, and instead of creating temporary stepping stones it may produce a kind of 'proof' which is not really promoting the dynamic potential of the artistic work to act as, or in, research.

 

The strength of the study is that it sets an interesting scene for further experimental research. It expands investigative photography as both a research topic in itself ─ an atmosphere-centred alternative of photography, and/or photography as a mode to partake in a larger rhetoric ─ and (atmosphere-centred) photography as a tool for enquiry into architecture. These aspects are of vital importance to artistic research, but are just briefly discussed in the article as possibilities. An advice for future studies would be to reset the interplay between photographs and theme of enquiry, where Mark Goodwin can use the full potentials of his own photography. This would include to develop more explorative and experimental investigation methods, and reformulate the research questions more towards how photography can act in the construction of place, the production of architectures and atmospheres, and how the research project could contribute to expanded understandings of representation and photography as discursive/argumentative statements. At length this could also discuss, more specifically, the indicated overall aim concerning how photography can develop a closer dialectic process within institutional practices and collaboration of architects, publishers and photographers.

 

The submission exposes practice as research to a limited extent, not doing full justice to the photographic approach as research. Practice here forms a rich entry but is then limited, as explorative research, by the interview setup and the taxonomy concepts. The specific question in the study ("if the described method and its feedback loops may extend the relationship between photographer and architect, and influence the photo assignment brief to generate more unexpected images and to reify the atmosphere as an essential aspect of architecture and its communication with the public") could probably be answered with 'yes'. The overall research question is vast ("Could photography, in dialogue with architects, help identifying and synthesizing distinct atmospheres and, particularly, could it communicate atmosphere of place in architectural works rather than displaying them as objects?") and should preferably be supplemented with 'How?' to generate more dynamic tracks for enquiry, which could generate more knowledge. However, the submission provides a basis for further studies and contains rich potentials to develop into a highly interesting research project, as discussed above.

 

The photographic material is exquisite and interesting, and the theme is of both artistic and intellectual central value. It can be questioned if the concepts 'atmographs' and 'archmospheres' are really propelling for the study. The specific research question(s) should be developed, and the methods of enquiry should be expanded in more experimental and explorative directions to give justice to the potentials of the theme and the photographic material. But this could be made in future investigation; the presented study is well suited to be used as a basis for further research.

 

The author is advised to add some minor comments on how the study is intended to be included in a larger research project. This could easily be connected both to the exposition and within the result section.

 

Jim Daichendt 18/06/2013 at 23:34

The topic of atmosphere is particularly interesting especially since the reader is not immune to its influence even when engaging this piece of artistic research. Representing space and place through the intersections of photography and architecture, Goodwin examines the topic in a critical and reflective manner.

 

The interviews presented are especially thought provoking. While the vision of the artist or architect would appear prominent, the collected responses suggest openness to collaboration in how space is represented in our memory. However, questions still remain whether the photograph serves as documentation or more of a persuasive tool. A debate that seems consistent with photography in general.

 

The outcome re: a hinged knowledge block is helpful for bringing the diverse items discussed together. The recorded interviews are also an excellent resource for folks who want to dig into the particulars of each interviewee.

 

I am particular impressed with the Goodwin’s ability to define the terms and to build a very interesting argument and conclusion. There is great innovation in the context of the interview study combined with practice- based research. It certainly provides new insights and knowledge from the great data collected. The exchange between photographers and architects only serves to build a knowledge base that can be expanded. The feedback is important and the diagrams illustrate this increased understanding.

 

The design of the article is quite nice and supports the exposition. The materials and methods section is helpful in this area for the rich use of imagery. Goodwin’s enthusiasm and knowledge of the topic really shines in his discussion and his research turned advocacy of photography is motivating.

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