Performing space through photography
Paolo Portoghesi
Mies van der Rohe
Photography as design tool
Materias Investigacion::Arquitectura
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Servicio de Publicaciones Universidad de Navarra
Schnell, A., (2016) ""Performing space through photography"" En: Alcolea, R.A, Tárrago-Mingo, J., (eds.), en Congreso internacional: Inter photo arch ""Interacciones"", celebrado en Pamplona, los días 2 al 4 de Noviembre de 2016, (pp. 354-365)
Photography used as a tool within the architectural design process has been little studied so far. Yet, since photography implies a discourse in itself, it may turn out as being far more than a tool. By comparing two major examples the essay wants to show how the use of photography allows architects to rather perform their design ideas than merely represent them, and how the traditional architectural discourse –in particular modernism vs. postmodernism– becomes challenged. On the one hand there is Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, who pasted various photographs from newspapers and magazines in his design drawings furnishing them with an extraordinary modern atmosphere. But, as a consequence, the inherent dislocation of space and time shifts slightly the whole collage into what almost might be called a postmodern simulacrum. On the other hand there is Paolo Portoghesi who always wanted to overcome modernism’s ignorance towards architecture’s past. Despite the fact that photography has been considered as the modernist way of seeing the world, he exemplified this position by publishing a series of books on baroque architecture in Italy, equipped with compelling photographs taken by himself. They carry the reader off into the rich and tempting world of Roman baroque applying all available means of modernist photographic techniques and tricks. It will be shown that the modernist Mies and the postmodernist Portoghesi use similar visual material and techniques, but the way their photographic techniques are embedded in the broader visual discourse shifts their meaning from “seeing photographically” to the “photographic gaze”.
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