• The predominant image: Architecture recaptured by the emancipation of photography

Han, Eleni, 2024, Thesis, The predominant image: Architecture recaptured by the emancipation of photography PhD thesis, Royal College of Art.

Abstract or Description:

The role of architecture in the development of photography and the acknowledgement of photography as an independent art form are often encountered in texts on photography and art history. The role of photography in the development of architecture is, however, discussed less frequently and in rather unclear terms. Architecture has always been informed by other disciplines and practices, incorporating their learnings within its own body of knowledge. Inevitably, photography’s role as an integral part of architectural practice and its dissemination has been crucial to its trans-disciplinary evolution. As a medium of seeing and re-reading, the photograph becomes a mechanism through which architecture can be seen and experienced anew.

Photography can be considered either as a technical device or as an artistic medium, and the latter is what enables it to form and reshape notions of architecture through its interdisciplinary application. The photograph becomes an instrument of looking, understanding, and recreating reality and, as a visual medium, communicating it and developing theories and propositions. Each artistic photographic expression of built space can be seen as an architectural investigation in its own right, shaping ideas through its aesthetic and compositional principles. The establishment of the Düsseldorf School of Photography in the 1970s was a pivotal moment in the acknowledgement of photography as an independent art form and its association with built space. At the same time, a parallel shift was experienced in architecture, with theorists and practising architects engaging more and more with photography as a medium for developing ideas that would later become key subjects of architectural discussion.

The thesis discusses a series of paradigmatic architectural subjects that have been fundamentally influenced by photography. These subjects are read through the artistic photographic approaches that created them, enabling links to form between developments in the discipline of photography and their architectural counterparts. Following a relatively chronological timeline it takes prominent theories of architectural typology as a starting point, moving to more diverse definitions of the ordinary and the vernacular. It continues by exploring the conceptual notions of presence and absence in space and through to the expression and construction of “real” space. Finally, it revisits the subject of “seeing” and visual abstraction in conjunction with the development of prototypical architectural concepts.

The thesis argues that architectural investigations, whether theoretical or practical, are more intrinsically linked to the photographic discipline than is expressed in current architectural theory and that these investigations reveal that photography has been a much more fundamental than practical instrument for architectural practice, theory, and dissemination. As a distinct discipline it has the potential to re-frame fundamental architectural concepts, offer a new set of investigative practices and provide an added layer of understanding space. While the thesis focuses on these specific cases it also presents a framework of investigation for other areas of architectural investigation where, by applying this new disciplinary perspective on photography, architects might gain further insight into subjects that are taken as given.

Qualification Name: PhD
Subjects: Architecture > K100 Architecture
School or Centre: School of Architecture
Funders: Onassis Foundation
Uncontrolled Keywords: Art photography; architecture theory; architectural photography; Düsseldorf School of Photography; photography of the built environment
Date Deposited: 13 Mar 2024 14:59
Last Modified: 13 Mar 2024 14:59
URI: https://researchonline.rca.ac.uk/id/eprint/5778
Edit Item (login required) Edit Item (login required)