research log: priorities for action


Explain in methodology reason for all images selected in each interview.  Example of second interview:


Add images chosen from interviews to images selected from each architect.  If possible, have them account for reason images were purchased.  Add this to interview?

DK section is really 1+1+0.5+0.5 because HL had such limited opening hours and the admin of KHR’s school was not terribly helpful, giving only one half-day’s access.


research log: priorities for action

upon return to finland:

1. shoot becher typologies of 2 views of each building under different light and weather

2. shoot models under different idealised lighting conditions (high/low key/grey)

3.  shoot buildings as close as possible to models

4.  shoot models as close as possible to typologies

research log: priorities for action

Interview two: part 3 (final section)


Dialectic approach

1. Was this a viable method of collaboration with a photographer?

2. Was this method really a dialectic? How could it be more so?


1 .Which visual conventions should architecture hold on to?

2. Do any of the images produced in this investigation point to a kind of innovation that could be pursued?


Please match letters from the list of words with each of the following numbers. Letters can be repeated.

1. Atmosphere as a concept for a new brand of photography:

2. Atmosphere as the organizing principle for a photographic project:

3. Atmosphere as the organizing principle for a research project:

4. Atmosphere as a bridge to facilitate dialogue between different professions:

5. Atmosphere as the means of categorising different types of photographs:

6. Atmosphere as a means of marketing architecture:

Word choice: a. useful b. pretentious c. unnecessary d. useless e. other (explain)

research log: priorities for action

keyword images in questionnaire so total types of images (architectural and atmospheric) tallied at the end.

  • ex1> black white, empty, low vantage point, rainy, dark, moody, etc.
  • ex2>colour, daylight, blue skies
  • ex3>Facade, school, surrounding context, axial perspective)

Add up the total of preferences of each interview and all interviews and weigh this against Ark (journal) research.

Qualitative or quantitative?  sounds quant but applied within limited case studies.

diary – visual illiteracy

As I walk around the Albaicín, two ideas present themselves repeatedly:  visual illiteracy and the reciprocal contact with the world (the postmodern fold) that learning can offer (when pleasurable).  The illiteracy refers to the nightly scores of tourists taking pictures of the Alhambra with hand-held cameras set to shoot with flash.  This act proves they are attempting to write in a foreign language they can scarcely read.  The act is not strange to encounter, as it is the norm – the fact that is is normal is the strange things.  People see photography as a capturing, memory-extending device – a technology that does everything for you.  So in their minds, there is nothing to learn beyond waiting for the camera to focus and pressing the button.  Learning is the other peripatetic thought, as I am slowly but surely learning my way around.  As I carve my way repeatedly through this old arab quarter, it carves paths into my brain.  It changes me, and that change alters my relationship with it.  We literally touch and become a part of each other through the eyes and the haptic memory.  The place is so beautiful, the walk such a joy, that learning is a pleasure.

Research Log: priorities for action

Interview two, part 1.

Participants are asked two perform two different tasks when looking at a series of images:  tick the image you like best, tick the image you would purchase.

The idea is to present a series of whats with 3 hows to choose from.  What is photographed (theme) and how it is represented (technique, or as i would have it, atmosphere).  Results will be recorded as X – Y on a chart.  X : examples of architectural concerns; Y: how they are represented through photography.  What is essentially the constant, how the variable.  It will be interesting to see whether likes correspond with purchases.

research log – priorities for action

rough out line towards production of second interview:

1a parte:

foto elicitacion / selección de fotos (lo que ya hablamos hoy y ahora queda por concretar, definir y desarrollar durante esta semana)

1. formas y temas

Formas (variable): A,B,C

Temas (constante):  Volumen, Luz, Contexto, Accion, B/N


Exterior:  3 fotos distintas de la misma fachada. Pero distintas como?  Luz, tiempo, accion…seria emplear temas como formas entonces….he aquí un problema.

Concretar modo taxonómico con Joaquín.  Hablar de hacer pdf interactivo para mandar a más gente que los 6 arquitectos.

Concretar cantidad de imágenes (layout) por pagina.

Concretar cantidad de temas a consultar.

Abc: photographic categories

Architectural categories on other axis

categorias Volúmenes Luz Contexto etc.…

2. arquitecto a construir foto ensayos eligiendo:

2, 4, 6 imágenes de una selección mia para contar la historia del proyecto

Concretar pregunta exacta.  Es suficiente pedir que eligen x cantidad de fotos o hay que especificar mas?

3. preferencias (externas)

Fotografías (dibujos? pinturas? 3d?) favoritas/mejores de arquitectura (o puede ser mas amplio (paisajes de Turner…)

Concretar si fotos solo o también grabados y pinturas.

Concretar cantidad de imágenes (ser realista).

2a parte:

convención vs. pretensión: discusión sobre el método escogido, su viabilidad cara al futuro y su utilidad para este estudio.

Aquí pretendo que “expertos del campo” opinan sobre las ideas centrales (y los términos que he escogido para definirlas) del “field test”.  Es un retorno a las ideas principales que pregunte en la primera entrevista.

Puede que tengas razón que estas ideas no entran en mi investigación, pero habrá que consultar a la gente implicada a posteriori de ver las fotos, ya que a priori su interés principal se basaba en lo que decía de “dialectical approach” y “atmosphere”.  Para abandonar estos conceptos me parece importante cerrar el circulo.  Te pido ayuda en la manera de formular estás preguntas.

1 Dialéctica:

a. Es un concepto útil y un método viable?  Dar ejemplos específicos de como o bien porque no.

b. Se ha realizado realmente con esta investigación y hasta que punto?  Como hacerlo mas y mejor?

c. Que elijan ellos una nombre o metáfora para este método de trabajar juntos: co-design, bridge hinge, semáforo, nube, otro…(pongo una selección de términos o pueden inventarse uno?)

2. Convenciones:

a.Que opinan a nivel comercial y personal sobre la utilidad de las convenciones actuales para compartir y vender la arquitectura, y cuales sobran dejando camino a innovaciones.

b. Cuales de estas imágenes (mías) indican posibles caminos y cuales son un punto muerto (dead end).

3.  Atmospheres:

Calificarías el uso del concepto y la palabra “atmosphere” como:

  1. útil,
  2. pretencioso
  3. innecesario/inútil
  4. otro (explicar)

para las siguientes aplicaciones:

a. crear una marca nueva de fotografía

b.  principio organizativo para desarrollar proyecto fotográfico

c.  principio organizativo para desarrollar una tesis doctoral

d. concepto “puente” para facilitar el dialogo entre distintos ámbitos profesionales

e.  manera de categorizar diferentes aires de fotos de arquitectura

f.  manera de comercial la arquitectura dentro del mundo de las publicaciones


1.  A large number of publications are not sufficiently interested in deviating from standard photographic practice or order to do so because they consider it a risk to the success of their publication.  By standard photographic practice I refer to colour images of the following standardised elements:

  • times of day: midday, producing blue skies and strong contrast through shadows and highlights, at dusk when the sky is white and lights show up vivid yellow, immediately after, during “blue light”.
  • times of year: typically spring or summer in northern Europe so that the preceding light conditions can be easily achieved and rain, cloudy & overcast skies and snow avoided.
  • vantage points: corner and centre shots of rooms and elevations ranging from eye level (1’70-1’80m) to half way up a building’s full height.
  • renaissance perspective: vertical lines must not converge and vanishing points converge on a horizon at 1/3 or 2/3 the height of the image
  • condition of buildings: “box fresh” with all building works completed but before use and personalisation of the building can occur
  • lack of human presence in the majority of images: there is a convention of placing small blurry figures in vast spaces to indicate scale and a modicum of human presence
  • general lack of story telling found in books, journals and popular magazines:  this is still very much more show than tell

Other sorts of photographic depiction are viewed as messy, unattractive and unprofessional.  Do you agree with this statement and do you think anything can, will or should be done about it?  If so, for what reasons, by whom and through what means?

2.  Is there a place for atmosphere as a means of changing some of these conventions or adding to them?

3.  Is atmosphere the focus of images in this project and if so, in which images specifically and through what means?  Is it the atmosphere of the place as imagined by the architect?   Is it the atmosphere of the place as might be perceived in person by a vistor to the building or user of the site?  Is the atmosphere rather a discovery or production made by the photographer?

4.  Can you think of any ways to improve this investigation and go further with this method of photography?

5.  Are there any ways in which you will apply the research conducted through these images and/ or this method of interviewing with a focus on atmosphere to your work?  How might this scale up to the collaborative work between photographers and architects in your national sphere and beyond?

6.  Are there ways in which it is neither appropriate nor useful to the art, technical discipline and business of architecture?  After all, the fundamental research question behind all of this is how does photography effect the practice of architecture, so it will be important to establish to what degree each participant believes:

  • it is useful to focus on atmosphere instead of material objects – not just buildings but also the space between them, the events that occur in and around them, and their existence over time.
  • a dialectical process is feisible between architect and photographer for the production of images
  • things are fine the way they are and perhaps the driving force behind this project is innovation for innovation’s sake rather than a question of applying a different model of production to raise doubts and questions about the existing one

All of these questions should be considered in light of those raised during the first interview and photographs produced subsequently.


1.  Respond freely to the following images (slideshow derived from pdf)

2.  Identify images from pdf that correspond to the following five statements from our first interview (list statements for each)

3.  Which images would you publish?  Why?

4.  Which images wouldn’t you publish?  Why not?

5.  Which images would you like to publish (ie in a “perfect world”) but consider less than plausible to do so.  For what reason?

6.  Do consider any of the images to have emerged from the dialectical process we discussed in the first interview?

Research Log: in search of a template

Research Log.

I will try to subtitle entries from now on as either:

  • evidence (new findings in terms of reading, discussion, interviews, documents, records, observation)
  • priorities of action (dealing with the resistance of the world: 3rd party or my photography)
  • research question (issues, aims, work)
  • theorizing (what about and how to explain it)
  • diary (insights, questions, hunches, ideas)

The following, however could be either:

Diary, Research Question or Priorities of Action.  I believe it is a combination of all three.

RQ (methodological issues)

The Routledge Companion to Research in the Arts sets the following tasks for anyone who would undertake this sort of investigation:

  • transdisciplinarity: open and interlinked disciplines working jointly with practitioners to solve real world problems
  • new paradigms to expand the range of possibilities of what we know and know we can know
  • find language that makes artistic research (methods, processes, concerns) more transparent and communicable
  • generate ideas, employ convergent and divergent thinking in process of observation, develop ideas through to outcomes in the form of images, artifacts, processes and texts
  • be resourceful and entrepreneurial
  • understand art work and research in broader context and participate in debate both verbally and in writing.

Diary, Research Question or Priorities of Action

Joaquin Roldan (my new supervisor in Granada?) has been very helpful with concrete ideas about the structure of my thesis.  I am grateful to him for both his time and energy.  It was only until I compared my notes from our meeting with the structure of one of his MA student’s thesis that I realized that his help (and the help of anyone in his position) might risk precluding the above tasks assigned by the Routledge companion.

He is very keen on structure.  All of his students break their work up as follows:

3 part thesis:

a.  technical: motivation, intro, key concepts, hypothesis, methodology, conclusion, bibliography

b. theoretical:  reading (lit review?), contexto/ estado de cuestión, propuesta (not quite sure about english equivalents and don’t wish to make up erroneous versions)

c.  empirical: field testing, case studies, production of artifacts

Which is of course very helpful when you are starting out.  Your work in fact becomes a series of gap-fills – and therein lies the danger.  Such a process – filling in gaps – cannot be the goal or end point of research.  For how are you mean to find or expand anything by working in that manner?  Certainly some common ground in terms of structure and content is needed between all theses and publications.  Hence ELIA and QAA’s pursuit of standards for the purposes of evaluation, one must suppose.  But surely the structure needs to be slightly more open ended, suggesting a minimal informational content based on certain elements, rather than concrete immovable boundaries in which a student need only fill with their findings.  To make anything, you need to know the basic ingredients.  If those ingredients and the methods of mixing them are completely codified, you get a dish.  You will not, however, get new, exciting dishes by strictly following that recipe.  You can only do so by borrowing from what is established through tradition or building on it.  And that should be the purpose of structure: to give you something to build and lean on.  It should not be a purpose in and of itself.

Having said that, it is a good exercise to start thinking about structure and the contents you fill that structure with.  Here is how I would fill those gaps.

a.  technical.

motivation: map existing conventions, offer atmospheric map of alternatives (poster, book, website), introduce new hinged way of working to architects and photographers

intro:   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.

key concepts: photography, architecture, architectural photography, atmospheres, artistic research, interdisciplinary research, dialectic, co-design.

hypothesis:  Atmosphere, it is hypothesised, allows for a shift in the focus of the architectural photograph; a hinge acts as a concept for explaining what role the dialectic in commercial production, as connection between education and industry, might play; research and dialogue based commissions will work in the form of a feedback loop which will benefit both academia and industry with a more connected way of working.

methodology: To field-test the dialectical process, photographic experiments were conducted over the course of a year in order to articulate questions in a visual form and interview architects and publishers about their response to these new techniques.

conclusion:  At stake are future practices in architecture and photography: two hinged creative commercial practices with a long history together.  But beyond that is the issue of whether the built environment should be deployed and defined by the tactics of still life photography and hence understood as a system of objects, or if indeed in might not be possible to represent and share it as part of the lived world with all its richness. It is hoped that a focus on atmosphere might be a step in that direction.  The enthusiasm of architects interviewed suggests that step might be possible.  The shift from architectural to an environmental way of seeing is really something more of a great leap.  The strength of artistic work when put side by side with the planning work cannot be overestimated. Plans only refer to a world that is 2 dimensional in the exact sense: not having an environment nor an arrow of time.  Artistic work is able to make the real appear, not only because of colours, lights, and perhaps even human beings and animals, plants, but because of unique moment that cannot be copied or modelled in anyone’s mind.  Artistic work is a way to create and share atmospheres through which architecture can be appreciated and understood.


b. theoretical:

contexto/ estado de cuestión.

-architectural:  the critique of existing relationship offered by theoreticians; the history of that relationship; the subject of atmosphere.

-photographic: the rise of deadpan photography and of architectural photojournalism.

-pr: how publishing fits in to all of this (constructing identity, this is not architecture, is it all about image, etc).



c.  empirical.

field testing: done through 6 case studies and several additional interview with experts in the fields of architecture photography publishing.

case studies: 3 danish 3 finnish arch. firms

production of artifacts: poster, book, website

He is suspicious of my use of atmosphere.  He reckons it is pretentious and not connected to what I am doing.  In his words, you’d like someone to write about your work 15 years from now and say it was very atmospheric.  But it is not what you are doing now, it is not really part of your investigation.  Given that he said this about my work from the outset, the first time we met, I suspect his response is due either to some sort of prejudice, the cause of which I am unaware for but that has nothing to do with me and my work, or simply because he has such clear ideas about what I am doing and this concept does not fit in with them –  like a square peg in a round hole.


Joaquin is very keen on artistic research and in principle enthusiastic about its potential for generating new knowledge.   But i wonder how compatible that interest is with this sort of dogmatic approach to subject matter and methodology, or indeed even the role of the supervisor (or director as it’s called here).

He has given me much to think about with regards to the interview process, which will be the subject of the next entry.

Arch types – reasoning behind each

Atmo types – reasoning behind each

Information sought from interview – research log: evidence and diary

Photographic references