research log: photography

_J1A8338I am currently shooting the K2s model in the photography studio at Aalto.  The original idea was to shoot it and “photoshop” it into different backgrounds depicting varied atmospheric moods.  But the model is quiet an abstraction from the original and I am not at all sure how that will look.  For that reason, I am shooting it like a sculpture to take the idea of still life photography to the limit and play it against my assertion that in situ photography works along these same lines.

diary: photography is half of my topic but fills less than half of this blog

I HAVE BEEN WRITING CRITICALLY ABOUT ARCHITECTS AT THE RISK OF FORGETTING TO WRITE ABOUT PHOTO.

POINTS NEEDING RESPONSE AND UNPACKING:

  • LEARNING PROCESS IN PRINTING COURSE
  • WAKE UP CALL ABOUT OWN PRACTICES
  • REVISION OF RETOUCHED WORK THAT WAS SUB-PAR
  • SHOOTING THE K2S MODEL

REALISATION THAT NEW FOCUS HAD REPURCUSSIONS IN THE TECHNICAL QUALITY OF MY WORK AND ALSO THE AESTHETIC CHOICES MADE:  ONCE YOU’VE THROWN OUT THE RULE BOOK IT IS DIFFICULT TO KNOW WHAT DO.  YOU LOSE THE ABILITY TO JUDGE.  CLEAR GUIDELINES MUCH NEEDED HAVE VANISHED.  HOPEFULLY IT WILL PROVE POSSIBLE TO CREATE A SYNTHESIS OF LAST YEAR’S WORK AND IT’S FOCUS ON ATMOSPHERE, FORMER PRACTICES WITH THEIR TECHNICAL MERITS AND FOCUS ON SERVICE FOR CLIENTS WITH THE NEWLY LEARNED OR UPDATED TECHNICS AND INCREASED KNOWLEDGE ABOUT ARCH PRACTICES.

log: arch photo award

Building Design

Architect’s Eye photography competition winners revealed

12 June 2013 | By Anna Winston

Two architects named as overall winners, after record breaking number of entries received

The winners of the Architect’s Eye photography competition have been announced at a cermony hosted by International Art COnsultnats and Roca London Gallery.

Entrants were asked to submit photography in two categories; Architecture and Place focusing on the aesthetics of a building and how it shapes the location and Architecture and People focusing on the interaction of people in relation to architecture.

David Kirkland, director at Kirkland Fraser Moor, prevailed in the Architecture and Place category with his image ‘Venice 2’.

David Kirkland. ‘Venice 2’

David Kirkland. ‘Venice 2’

“I am interested in photography as a medium to tell stories words cannot. Venice is for me a timeless wonder even Calvino struggled to fully express. This image strips back the frenetic element of time – its passing and its dating, to expose what remains – water, earth and sky.”

Judge and photographer George Kavanagh described the shot as “an original view of Venice that shows a subtle mosaic palette of tonal intrigue.”

The runner-up, Uwe Schmidt-Hess, director at Patalab Architecture, was recognised for her despondent scene of Blackpool’s Central Pier, designed by John Issac Mawson.

Uwe Schmidt-Hess. ‘Blackpool Central Pier’

Uwe Schmidt-Hess. ‘Blackpool Central Pier’

“The photograph, taken on a cloudy day in summer 2012 shows a melancholic scene of Blackpool’s Central Pier, designed by John Isaac Mawson and opened on 30 May 1868. In contrast to the Northern Pier, seen in the background, Central Pier’s emphasis has been on fun rather than the genteel relaxation.”

Darrell Godliman, from Riach Architects, triumphed in the Architecture and People category with his photograph ‘Break Point.’

Darrell Godliman. ‘Break Point’

Darrell Godliman. ‘Break Point’

“Taken in London Docklands on a Friday afternoon, the lens has compressed the perspective of the columns to isolate each employee in their own personal space. For me the image is a social commentary about the pressures of modern life, the wistful look of the central subject maybe implying a wish to escape.”

Judge and architectural photographer Quintin Lake said: “The winning image stood out immediately for its combination of strong geometry and contemporary authenticity, captured at just the right moment. The use of primarily monochrome colour has been used to advantage by the photographer to focus our attention on the hands and faces. The exile of smokers from their place of work are one of few private moments we see publicly on the street today: a strange piece of modern theatre beautifully captured in this image.”

The runner-up for this category was Paul Keskeys, an architect at RG+P Ltd, who attempted to capture a moment of calm represented by a Japanese woman who sits unaware of the frenetic business air in the middle of Shinjuku, Tokyo.

Paul Keskeys. ‘The Urban Lantern’

Paul Keskeys. ‘The Urban Lantern’

“Shinjuku, 8:47pm. The ward buzzes with the frenetic air of business: swarms of people flow through, grains of sand between the towering fingers of commerce. Silhouettes and shadows collide, entangled in a perpetual struggle… but for a single, stationary moment in the darkness. There, she sits amidst the frenzy – calm in the halcyon glow of the urban lantern.”

The work of the competition winners and finalists will be exclusively showcased in the Zaha Hadid designed Roca London Gallery for the next three months (12th June – 31st August) as part of the London Festival of Architecture.

Simon Allford, chair of the competition, said: “The winners of both categories emerged unanimously but not without much debate. Both demonstrate considerable technical skills but ultimately they were chosen because, in very different ways in their respective categories, they offer the viewer a different perspective of how architecture defines places for people to inhabit.”

The full jury included: Keith Priest (Partner at Fletcher Priest Architects and President of the Architectural Association), Quintin Lake (Architectural Photographer), George Kavanagh (Photographer), Martine Hamiton Knight (Architectural Photographer, The Royal Photographic Society), Valeria Carullo (Senior Curator from the Photographs Collection, British Architectural Library, RIBA), Anna Winston (Head of Digital, Building Design) and Alex Heath (Managing Director at International Art Consultants).

research log: participant observation

I am spending the next two weeks at JKMM, observing.  This means sitting here talking pictures of their daily life, attending meetings with the partners, going to a summer house with the entire office,and helping with things like photoshop.  At the moment there is not enough participation and too little understanding of what I am observing, but little by little I am drawing nearer and able to speak to the natives.

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Sitting here watching this group of mainly young, recent graduates, I am struck by the contrast with school leavers from the art world.  I think every art student values their independence and dreads nothing more than the cage of an office job.  But these people seem anything but slaves to the grind.  Sitting in a pleasant environment, working independently on jobs 100% related to what they have studied, I wonder if the art student isn’t the slave.  Going from month to month without ever knowing what the next will bring, are we not the ones chained to the grind of anxiety produced by uncertainty?  Perhaps it is a case of domestic vs. wild animals.  The romantics would have us believe the latter are better off.  But aren’t they a bit like the unfortunate homeless we see living rough with an empty stomach and nothing to think about but how and where to get the next meal?  Is the art student much different?  In that case are they strays living parallel lives to architectural domestic fat cats?

food

All a bit exaggerated and overly dramatic, maybe, but also not that far from the truth.  At least here in Finland.  The story of architecture school graduates in the UK sounds far more like that of art students:

In 1989 Peter Buchanan penned a diatribe for the AR entitled ‘What is Wrong with Architectural Education? Almost Everything’. Two decades on, not much has changed. A recent front page splash in the London Evening Standard featured 24-year old Debo Ajose-Adeogun, an architecture graduate with no prospect of work. The aim was to highlight the corrosive effects of the recession on young people, but the focus on someone who had chosen to make a life in architecture seemed emblematic of the schism between architectural institutions and the real world.

Ultimately, though I suppose it goes beyond the remit of my dissertation to provide any sort of answer, this kind of experience begs the question about the future employability of photographers. On the one hand, there are far more fine art photographers than ever.  Photography is the artform de rigueur for galleries and museums.  This has really done a great deal for universities.

Added to that, publishing has been following a similar trajectory since internet and e-publishing took off in a big way.  All of which means that there are fewer and fewer commercial photographers able to make a living.  I have felt the effects of this in the architecture world.  More architects are able to shoot their own work than ever, and more artists, journalists and still life photographers are interested in looking to architecture as a subject and medium for publication.  In short, the future is not bright.  But what if…?s, as it has meant that you can make a career out of being an artist, and the best way to get a foot in the door and on the ladder is through certain gateway centres of learning.  On the other, the number of commissioned photographers has been plummeting ever downwards for at least a decade now.  As we all know, ever cheaper high quality digital cameras and powerful computers have made DIY a valid (seeming) option, especially for the budget conscious client.

house

What if photography was taught as a specialised field within the curriculum?  Perhaps there might be training for architectural PR/Photography in the future, so that students with those skills and interests could count themselves amoungst the happy number of employable university leavers, part of the team, and part of the enrichment of the discursive circle (or feedback loop) I am always one about?

sunset