log: defying Benjamin

She believes photographs have an aura: http://archinect.com/features/article/84984077/in-focus-jade-doskow

The in focus section of the website is a great resource for architectural photographers.  Must contact them upon completion of the new website:


log: perspective as symbolic form

Perspective as Symbolic Form
Erwin Panofsky


this “central perspective”

makes two tacit but essential assumptions: first, that we see with

a single and immobile eye, and second, that the planar cross section

of the visual pyramid can pass for an adequate reproduction

of our optical image. In fact these two premises are rather bold

abstractions from reality, ifby “reality” we mean the actual subjective

optical impression. (p 29)


Visual space and

tactical space [Tastraum] are both anisotropic and unhomogeneous

in contrast to the metric space of Euclidean geometry: ‘the main

directions of organization – before-behind, above-below, rightleft

– are dissimilar in both physiological spaces.’ (p 30)

In a sense, perspective transforms psychophysiological

space into mathematical space. It negates the differences

between front and back, between right and left, between

bodies and intervening space (“empty” space), so that the sum

of all the parts of space and all its contents are absorbed into a

,single “quantum continuum.” It forgets that we sec not with a

single fixed eye but with two constantly moving eyes, resulting

in a spheroidal field of vision. It takes no account of the enormous

difference between the psychologically conditioned “visual

image” through which the visible world is brought to our

consciousness, and the mechanically conditioned “retinal image”

which paints itself upon our physical eye (p 31)


Finally, perspectival

construction ignores the crucial circumstance that this retinal

image – entirely apart from its subsequent psychological “interpretation,”

and even apart from the fact that the eyes move – is a

projection not on a flat but on a concave surface. Thus already

on this lowest, still prepsychologicallevel of facts there is a fundamental

discrepancy between “reality” and its construction.

This is also true, of course, for the entirely analogous operation (p 31)


What is most interesting is

that Kepler fully recognized that he had originally overlooked

or even denied these illusory curves only because he had been

schooled in linear perspective. He had been led by the rules of

painterly perspective to believe that straight is always seen as

straight, without stopping to consider that the eye in fact projects

not onto a plana tabella but onto the inner surface of a

sphere. II And indeed, if even today only a very few of us have perceived

these curvatures, that too”is surely in part due to our habituation

– further reinforced by looking at photographs – to linear

perspectival construction: a construction that is itself comprehensible

only for a quite specific, indeed specifically modern, sense

of space, or if you will, sense of the world. (p34)

Antique perspective is furthermore the expression of an equally specific

and equally unmodern conception of the world….Whdy did the ancients

fail to take the apparently small step of intersecting the visual pyramid

with a plane and thus proceed to a truly exact and systematic construction

of space?


They did not do it because that feeling for sapce which was seeking expression

in the plastic arts simply did not demand a systematic space (p43)


Sounding like Thomas Kuhn, he points out that “leadership” transfers from

one country or genre to another when work in an aesthetic direction can no

longer bear fruit.  (p47).  Of course that kind of speciation of work was possible

before global communication and transportation took on its current dimension.


“the image of the infinitely distant points of all the orthogonals” is, in a sense,

the concrete symbol for the discovery of the infinite itself (p57)


the result [of the discovery of Renaissance perspective] was a translation of

psychophysiological space into mathematical space; in other words, an

objectification of the subjective (p66)


plato rejected perspective for distorting true proportions, as was the case in the ancient near east, in the middle ages also for introducing a subjective world view.  Expressionism and impressionism equally do without it (p71)


perspective mathematizes this visual space, and yet it is very much visual space that it

mathematizes; it is an ordering, but an ordering of the visual phenomenon (71).


perspective, in transforming the ousia (reality) into the phainomenon (appearance),

seems to reduce the divine to a mere subject matter for human consciousness; but

for that very reason conversely, it expands human consciousness into a vessl for the

divine (72).

© 1991 Llrzone, Inc.
611 Broadway, Suite 838
New York, NY 10012
First Edition
All rights reserved

log: revisiting The Photographer’s Eye and The Nature of Photographs

01basic concepts 02basic concepts 03basic concepts 04basic concepts 05basic concepts 06basic concepts 07basic concepts 08basic concepts 09basic concepts 10basic concepts 11basic concepts

The Physical Level – the physical object that is the print, the qualities of that print, colour vs black and white, the style of the photographer.  It seems to me that confuses his categories a bit, here.  It would be tempting to talk just about the physical qualities of the object – the print – but I am interested in screen images, too.  However, it might be useful to talk about the conscious decision to make the viewer aware of the medium, like thick brush strokes in a painting, instead of trying to hide it and give you the sense that the photograph is a neutral, objective, scientific window on the world.

The Depictive Level – here he lists the following decisions that are crucial to depiction: vantage point, frame, moment and plane of focus.  This category nearly sums up Szarkowski’s book.  It also encompasses everything you have to think about to produce conventional architectural photography.

The Mental Level – the photographer makes many choices about focus:  lens, eye, attention, mind.  It think he is trying to point out that photography can send you thinking or imagining.  You don’t just stare at the content or at the forms contained in the frame.  A photograph can be a point of departure.  Or not.

Mental Modelling – this point is the most relevant one to my research question, so I will quote it in full.

The mental levels genesis is in the photographer’s mental organisation of the photograph

The mental levels genesis is in the photographer’s mental organisation of the photograph.  When photographers take pictures, they hold mental models in their minds models that are the result of prodding’s of insight, conditioning, and comprehension of their world.

At one extreme, the model is rigid and ossified, bound by an accumulation of its conditioning: a photographer recognizes only subjects that fit the model, or structures pictures only in accordance with the model.  A rudimentary example of this is a mental filter that permits only sunsets to pass through.  At the other extreme, the model is supple and fluid, readily accommodating and adjusting to new perceptions.

For most photographers, the model operates unconsciously.  But, by making the model conscious, the photographer brings it and the mental level of the photograph under his or her control.

Earlier I suggested that you become aware of the space between you and the page in this book. That caused an alteration of your mental model. You can add to this awareness by being mindful, right now, of yourself sitting in your chair, its back pressing against your spine. To this you can add an awareness of the sounds in your room. And all the while, as your awareness is shifting and your mental model is metamorphosing, you are reading this book, seeing these words – these words, which are only ink on paper, the ink depicting a series of funny little symbols whose meaning is conveyed on the mental level. And all the while, as your framework of understanding shifts, you continue to read and to contemplate the nature of photographs.

He ads the following in an interview with Aperture

If the signature style is something genuine, something inherent, as opposed to a stylization imposed on one’s
work, mental modeling is simply the natural inclination of that photographer. There has been this idea in
photography of previsioning (to use Weston’s term), which is having a mental image of the picture. The image an
experienced photographer has in mind, whether it be conscious or unconscious, can guide all the little decisions that
go into making a picture. It becomes the coordinating factor. With “mental modeling,” I’m talking about making
that conscious, becoming aware of it as an image, and not simply seeing out your eyes like out a window.

Stephen Shore interviewed by Luc Sante
Aperture #185, April 2007

research log: three 81 image, 9 category grids finished

9 projects, each divided into 3 sections:  exterior daytime, interior, exterior blue light. Wherever possible, the exteriors have been of at least one corner and one facade; the exteriors have included where possible one general shot and a key feature, such as a staircase, atrium or significant detail.

poster architecture side interactive

9 different interpretations of place (left to right, top to bottom): nostalgic black and white, details, white, ants, light, portraits, black, cubist, grey.

marc goodwin monochromatic architecture marc goodwin monochromatic architectureposter atmosphere side 3

log: that’s the way you do it







research log: trying to be categorical

but it is not easy

poster atmosphere side 3

poster architecture side interactive2

interactive pdfs:

atmospheres earlier version: poster atmospheres side

atmospheres latest version: poster atmosphere side

architectures earlier version:poster architecture side interactive2

architectures latest version: poster architecture side interactive