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  • Writer's pictureZhenspace

Relationship of Architecture and Photographs

The relationship between architecture and photographs is more intertwined than we ever imagined. Think of them as a concrete proof their very own existence. They both need each and cannot exist without the other despite being a completely different art form. For this sole reason, photographs might be one of the most constitutive medium that represents an architecture.

A photograph of a space is able to isolate, define, interpret, exaggerate or even invent a cultural value for it. Some might even go as far as to say that the cultural value of a space is what we call "architecture" and that is inseparable from photography. As much as we would deny, modernism has also transform architecture in a way to become irreversibly complicit with its photographic potentials. Architects and designers began to design with photographic representation in mind and for good or bad the public began to understand the built world around them in photographic terms.

Architecture is a medium representing a fraction of a time, culture, place and people while photographs is a medium presenting the documented and translated messages of architecture to the world. As in most cases, photographs might be the only version of an architecture that one will ever see and that is what makes the relationship between them untangleable.

It is true that different photographers will produce a different outlook and versions of an architecture even if they are the same building or space. This is where the role of an architect or designer come in to co-create the architectural production with the photographer to realise their vision. The task of producing photographic representation should not solely depend on the photographers to represent the buildings as what they perceived but to communicate with the architects and designers to translate the deeper architectural message to the world.

Photographs work wonders in showing someone what they can see now when the architecture is completed rather than an unrealised vision of what architects and designers have in mind. Its role is as important as it ever was, as again, photograph might be the only version of an architecture someone might ever experience before, now and future. For this sole reason, there is no other medium that is more perfect to replace photographs yet, period.

"Everyone will have noticed how much easier it is to get hold of a painting, more particularly a sculpture, and especially architecture, in a photograph than in reality."

Walter Benjamin



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