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The Optical Truth Status of Architecture

Andrew C Diggle 040478610 Lincoln School of Architecture ARC3023 Dissertation

Non nobis, Domine, non nobis, sed nomini tvo da gloriam

Figure 1: Untitled, Milan. Developed and Printed from 35mm Film. Photograph by Author

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Contents Page 1: Page 2: Page 3: Page 5: Page 8: Page 11: Page 15: Page 19: Page 22: Page 25: Page 26 : Page 27: Page 28: Acknowledgement and Frontispiece Contents Page List of Illustrations Chapter 1 Introduction Chapter 2 Optical Truth? Debates About the Optical Truth of Photography Chapter 3 Bernd and Hilla Becher Analogue Objectivity Chapter 4 Thomas Demand Constructed Realities Chapter 5 Josef Schulz Digital Subjectivity Chapter 6 Optical Truth and Architecture Chapter 7 Conclusion Recommendations for Further Research Appendix 1 Bibliography

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List of Illustrations Figure 1: Figure 2: Untitled, Milan. [Source: Photograph By Andrew Diggle (2004)] The Camera Obscura, 1646 [Source: Beatriz Colomina, Privacy and Publicity. Modern Architecture as Mass Media. (Cambridge MA, MIT Press. 1999), 79] Figure 3: Bernd & Hilla Becher, Neville Island, Pennsylvania, USA 1980. [Source: Michael Mack, Reconstructing Space: Architecture in Recent German Photography. (London, Architectural Association, 1999), 40] Figure 4: Bernd & Hilla Becher, Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 1980. [Source: Michael Mack, Reconstructing Space: Architecture in Recent German Photography. (London, Architectural Association, 1999), 41] Figure 5: Bernd & Hilla Becher, Industrial facades [Source: Michael Mack, Reconstructing Space: Architecture in Recent German Photography. (London, Architectural Association, 1999), 33] Figure 6: Thomas Demand Draughting Room [Source: Colomina and Kluge, Thomas Demand. (London Serpentine Gallery, 2006), 74] Figure 7: Thomas Demands 2006 exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery [Source: Colomina and Kluge, Thomas Demand. (London, Serpentine Gallery, 2006), 126] Figure 8: Josef Schulz, Form#10, 2004. [Source: William Ewing et al. reGeneration. 50 Photographers of Tomorrow 2005-2025. (London, Thames & Hudson, 2005) 173] Figure 9: Josef Schulz, Brick, 2003. [Source: William Ewing et al. reGeneration. 50 Photographers of Tomorrow 2005-2025. (London, Thames & Hudson, 2005) 174] Figure 10: German Pavilion, Barcelona, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe [Source: Stelljes Bau. Online Portfolio. http://www.stelljes-bau.de/gl_image_19.htm - 3 23 19 19 17 15 12 11 11 8 1

Accessed: 26.01.2007 01.14am.] Figure 11: German Pavilion, Barcelona, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe [Source: Stelljes Bau. Online Portfolio. http://www.stelljes-bau.de/gl_image_20.htm Accessed: 26.01.2007 01.16am.] Figure 12: Administration Building, California, Uncorrected [Source: Julius Schulman, Photographing Architecture and Interiors. (Los Angeles, Balcony Press (2000) 28] Figure 13: Administration Building, California, Corrected [Source: Julius Schulman, Photographing Architecture and Interiors. (Los Angeles, Balcony Press (2000) 28] Figure 14: First Methodist Church, California. Wide angle view [Source: Julius Schulman, Photographing Architecture and Interiors. (Los Angeles, Balcony Press (2000) 57] Figure 15: First Methodist Church, California. Normal angle view. [Source: Julius Schulman, Photographing Architecture and Interiors. (Los Angeles, Balcony Press (2000) 57] Figure 16: First Methodist Church, California. Narrow angle view. [Source: Julius Schulman, Photographing Architecture and Interiors. (Los Angeles, Balcony Press (2000) 56] 27 27 27 27 27 23

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Chapter 1 Introduction This thesis commenced with my looking into the relationship between architecture and its photographic representation. As my study progressed the notion of the optical truth status of photography started to play a larger role in the research I was conducting. I saw that truth was something that had been discussed a great deal in literature, particularly in relation to photography. This is primarily because of a fundamental paradox in photography between image and reality, but more recently the debate has reemerged due to digital imaging technologies and the supposed threat they pose to the photographic truth. This is a key time for the photographic representation of architecture, whose history was only created less than three decades ago. This creation of history coincided with the restructuring of knowledge commonly termed postmodernism and the subsequent admission of photography into art galleries and museums, collectively known as the exhibition space (Crimp in Wells, 2003: 424; Krauss, 1989: 134). It could be said that as photography gained its licence as art, it simultaneously gained a history. It is important to note the extent to which the technology of photography has played a part in the development of society and culture since its inception. This is impossible to accurately describe, but Sarah Kember reasonably states that like any other form of technology it has neither determined or been wholly determined by wider cultural forces, but it has had a part to play in the history of how societies and individuals represent and understand themselves and others (Kember in Wells, 2003: 206). The importance of photography in relation to architecture is increasing and there has been a notable shift in the way that we learn, think about and experience architecture since its involvement with the mass media. Clare Zimmerman suggests that architecture is dependent upon photography so much so that it has become an internalised habit of the discipline, to use photographs when speaking about buildings (Zimmerman, 2004: 335). She does note however that this is based upon an assumed distinction between architectural space and its representation in a photograph (ibid.), a distinction I feel whose boundary has become somewhat blurred of recent times. Zimmerman also states that photographs are remarkably poor sources for information about their architectural subjectbut only if we wish to understand them as conduits of architectural information (Zimmerman, 2004: 332). The modern movement was the first movement in art history, whose communication, other than that in person, relied primarily upon photographic evidence (Colomina, 1999: 14). Previously architects had relied upon personal experience, drawings or conventional books to communicate their ideas and learn about architecture (ibid.) and this argument is of prime importance to this thesis. The theory, one posited by Beatriz Colomina, examines the relationship between architecture and the media, proposing

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that modern architecture is all about the mass-media image. Thats what makes it modern, rather than the usual story about functionalism, new materials and new technologies (Colomina & Kluge, 2006: 21). This reliance has also been adopted by postmodern architects, and to a large extent has been exacerbated by the introduction of the new discursive space of the internet. But the reliance is no longer used to prove the honesty or truth of the building, rather the reliance now comes from the perceived requirement of architecture to interact with the media, for reasons of commodification, architectural history and celebration of the status quo. These practices in turn have established canonical works, which could most readily be described as authoritative works of architecture, which have become exemplars of modern thought. In a historical context these works of architecture have become points of reference through which we understand the ideas of modernity. In this context I would include photographs of Villa Savoye by Le Corbusier, Falling Water by Frank Lloyd Wright, The Barcelona Pavilion by Mies Van der Rohe and countless other buildings which have all been subject to a media construction. I decided to examine the work of three architectural photographers who place their work into the context of art. This is for several reasons; firstly I wanted to look for ways that photographers operate around the notion of optical truth to construct an argument, and as I looked more deeply it was clear that there were constraints placed upon commissioned architectural photographers who were bound to communicating architectural intention; secondly, photographers who work in the field of art are free from these constraints; and finally, in his introduction to his book Rethinking Architecture Neil Leach talks of critiques internal to the modern project, which if heeded may have prevented its demise (Leach, 1999: 4). I see these photographs as internal critiques, beyond what many would consider to be relevant to architecture, but nonetheless I feel that an examination of their work will provide significant results relevant to the practise of architecture today. The literature that has informed this thesis is broad ranging and starts with art-historical accounts of the origins of photography to the postmodern speculations and critiques about the implications of digital imaging. It was important to me that I thoroughly understood the origins of the optical truth status in photography which are firmly embedded in a Cartesian conception of space, positivism and the enlightenment. These have since been compounded by modern practices of architectural representation. It is the reciprocation between certain modern architects and architectural publications, books and journals that has established discursive spaces that place photographs into a heavily objectified context suggesting their reliability as true representations of architecture. I have been informed particularly by the work of Rosalind Krauss, Beatriz Colomina, William J Mitchell, Douglas Crimp, Kim Dovey, Stuart Hall, Susan Sontag, Mitchell Schwarzer and Sarah Kember. Some of these critics are specifically related to architecture and others are not, so it has been the aim of this - 6 -

dissertation to apply all of their thoughts into an architectural context and consider their relevance. Moreover it has been a matter of tying together relevant information in an attempt to trace a relationship between the optical truth, architecture and its representation. I agree with Hall and Gieben (Hall & Gieben, 1999) when they assert; what we mean by modern is that each process led to the emergence of certain distinctive features or social characteristics and it is these features which, taken together, provide us with our definition of modernity. In this sense, the term modern does not simply mean that the phenomenon is of recent origin. It carries a certain analytic and theoretical value, because it is related to a conceptual model (ibid.: 6). In this context modernity is not only characterised by the canons of modern architecture although this is an undeniable facet of modernity but is also contained within the discursive spaces, theories, and underlying structures that have been created for and as a side effect of modernity. All photographers herein operate within the construction of contemporary critical art, a discourse that is allowed certain privileges and primarily operates around aesthetic discourse. This more explicitly means that they create their work specifically to function within the gallery space. Matters of composition and technique are discussed. The photographs operate as representations of the gallery and the status afforded to them as Art. Whether public museum, official salon, worlds fair or official showing, the space of exhibition was constituted in part by the continuous surface of wall a wall increasingly structured solely for the display of art (Krauss, 1985: 132). Through a continuum of representation that runs from analogue objectivity to digital subjectivity, I will argue that canonical works of modern architecture were reliant upon the optical truth status of photography to preserve the truth, precision and materiality of their buildings and to develop a growing relationship with emerging discourses. This in turn created modern discursive spaces that are necessarily resistant to opposition. I will further argue that postmodern thought, particularly the notions of uncertainty and digitisation, broke the perceived causal relation between object and representation, forcing upon the photograph and architecture the perception of subjectivity. In the first chapter I will introduce the idea of optical truth. In the subsequent chapters I will then discuss the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher, who uphold the modern tradition of analogue objectivity; Thomas Demand, a postmodern photographer who opposes the notion of optical truth by photographing constructed realities; and Josef Schulz, another postmodern photographer, who engages in digital image manipulation to prove the subjectivity of his images. I will then look more closely at the relationship between optical truth and architecture before concluding my argument.

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Chapter 2 Optical Truth? Debates About the Truth of Photography In this chapter I aim to place the theory of optical truth into a historical and social context, looking at some of the key arguments that have been proposed. I will suggest that the perceived truth of a photograph is something that has been constructed through our conception of the photographic process as objective and the way that we see the photograph as a medium to prove event occurred. I will also consider the ramifications of digital imaging to optical truth and the possibility that photographic images maintain a control over us through the knowledge and understanding gain from them. The debates around the optical truth of the photograph relate to the extent to which the photograph is an accurate representation of reality and are fed by the central paradox between reality and representation. The classical, humanist argument is that the photograph is a transparent representation of a real scene (Colomina, 1999: 77) and resides in the analogical paradigm of the camera obscura (ibid.), a model informed heavily by the laws of optics, the behaviour of light and a Cartesian conception of space (Damisch in Wells, 2003: 88). Notably, the way that light produces an image, through the chemical reaction on the filmic plane presents this process as objective and without direct human intervention (ibid.). Damisch defines this as being a deceit inherent in the process of photography, but states that this is not the only deception the photographic image contains (ibid.).

Figure 2: The Camera Obscura, 1646.


Damisch argues that the camera and the photographic lens were moulded to a conception of space that preceded photography and accordingly informed how the camera and lens should be constructed (ibid.). This he states is a historical deceit which is far more subtle and insidious (ibid.). Damisch is of course referring to the Cartesian conception of three-dimensional space and the sixteenth century ordering of vision known as perspectivalism. The camera is itself a box obeying perspectival and architectonic laws (Haus, 1997: 85). That photographs conform to these conceptions is essential to

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our understanding of these images as correct, or more fundamentally, true. Any deviation away from these conceptions would cause us to question the reality of the photograph. In a similar vein, when we look at photographic images we refer to an ideological framework and an existing knowledge structure to establish if the image is plausible (Mitchell, 1998: 37). We automatically check images against what we know to be true and in doing so refer to our knowledge of the referent. This is an automatic process of understanding and testing the credibility of the information contained in a photographic image. The debate about optical truth in photography can also be associated with the notion of proof; if something is true, then it can be proven. As Susan Sontag comments in her book On Photography, A photograph passes for incontrovertible proof that a given thing happened. The picture may distort, but there is always a presumption that something exists, or did exist, which is like whats in the picture (Sontag, 1979: 5). Sontag goes on to state that a photograph any photograph seems to have an innocent and therefore more accurate, relation to visible reality than do other mimetic objects (ibid., 6). Much of this presumed innocence stems from the parallels between the camera and the eye, just as light passes through the lens to focus on the retina, light passes through a lens to focus on the filmic plane. This filmic plane is inherently different in definition to the planar constructed surface of the drawing or painting (Berger, 1977: 8). Although they both lead to a representation, that of the constructed surface of a drawing or painting is viewed to be inherently subjective and will at best be selectively truthful. With emphasis being placed on composition and aesthetics, delegating the role of truthful representation to secondary. The pictorial frame resembles both the photograph and the painting, but both modes of representation are inherently different. Painting is a constructive act, a process of building an image or representation with pencil lines or brush strokes. Through this constructive act there results an image that is highly personal in character (Mitchell, 1998: 30) constructed over a period of time and with no guarantee that the referent existed (ibid., 29). Photography on the other hand is an act that takes place in an instant that involves a change of states; a chemical reaction or the changing of data. With photography though there is a causal relationship between a depiction and the object [referent] to which it refers (ibid.). In other words, to have a photograph of something, then firstly that thing must have existed (Sontag, 1979: 5). This causal relationship is another reason why we consider photographic images to be true. The process of digitisation appears to threaten the truth status of photography (Grundberg, 1999: 222229; Kember, 1998; Mitchell, 1998; Ritchin, 1990; Rosler, 2004: 259-317.). Photographs would no longer be images that arrive by the causal relationship between the depicted and the depictions through - 9 -

the mechanical, seemingly objective characteristics of light. But would become tarnished by a process whose function we perceive in relation to digital imaging technologies could be to distort and misrepresent (Mitchell, 1999: 7). Talking in contrast to the emulsion coated surface of the negative, Mitchell argues the essential characteristic of digital information is that it can be manipulated easily and very rapidly by the computer (ibid.), thus involvement in the digitisation of photographic images results in a lack of credibility on the terms of the image (ibid.). In his critique of the implications of new digital imaging technology In Our Own Image where he predicts a Coming Revolution in Photography Fred Ritchin argues that the photographic attraction resides in a visceral sense that the image mirrors realities (Ritchin: 1990: 2). He later posits that if the truth status of the photograph were to become suddenly tenuous then we would have to reconsider it as a system of representation (ibid. 2). He was of course stating that this was indeed the case and that alongside many others (Kember, 1998; Mitchell, 1998; Rosler, 2004) a critical re-evaluation of the truth status of the photograph is now required in the light of digital imaging technologies. Both Rosler and Kember agree with this proposed re-evaluation, but see the digital imaging technologies merely as an exacerbation of existing concerns over the photographic real (Rosler, 2004: 259; Kember, 1998: 17) opposed to bringing about a new concern or a revolution (Ritchin, 1990: 3). There is no doubt that digital imaging technologies have brought about new methods of manipulating photographs, thus posing a threat to the photographic real. But the photographic real is so ingrained in our culture, so invested in socially and psychologically that it continues to maintain a control over us in the terms of power and knowledge and in the terms of desire and subjectivity (Kember, 1998: 18). Kember is referring to the way photography has become part of the way we learn about the world around us. We build up an image of the world and our situation in it, socially and historically not only through the people we meet and the places we visit, but through the photographs we see. For example, you may have never been to Sydney, but the likelihood is that you will be able to describe how the Opera House looks, possibly even its situation within the harbour. Kember posits that this amounts to a control over us in relating to us knowledge and our social relations. I have stated that the notion of optical truth lies in the analogical paradigm of the camera obscura, and the conceptions of Cartesian space and perspectivalism. I have also discussed the relation of proof to the photograph and have established that photography exerts a control over us in the way we learn about and understand our position in the world around us. I will now go on to discuss the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher who use the optical truth status of photography in a manner so as to preserve their buildings in a neutral and objective manner.

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Chapter 3 Bernd and Hilla Becher Analogue Objectivity In this chapter I will discuss the work of Bernd and Hilla Becher in relation to the ideas of objectivity and their technique. They are an example of photographers who uphold the modern tradition of objectivity. I will draw relation between their work and the seventeenth century encyclopaedic project suggesting that this is one inspiration for their prolific body of work. I will discuss how their work is arranged and the way that could be seen to be analogous to the way architectural discourses are formed and begin to rely upon the photograph as a representation. Finally I will consider the photograph as a form of art.

Figure 3: Neville Island, Pennsylvania, USA 1980.

Figure 4: Cleveland, Ohio, USA, 1980.

The photographs of the Bechers are categorically modern and operate within the rhetoric of objective and truthful photography. They consciously employ the use of rigorous, near scientific technique to capture their photographs, which is a modern characteristic (Mitchell, 1998: 8) inherited from the encyclopaedic tradition. The Bechers photographs are pictures of vernacular industrial structures, blast furnaces, water towers, cooling towers, gas tanks, and grain elevators (Schwarzer, 2004: 175) and contain a feeling of nostalgia for these remnants of the industrial era. Though this is the case, the objective front-on position gives their photographs an artificiality like the buildings are posing form the picture (Robinson & Herschman, 1988: introduction; Schwarzer, 2004: 175). The Bechers photography emanates from a position opposed to the openly subjective representations of architecture. which, more often than not, employ an oblique view of the referent for compositional and

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aesthetic effect (Mack, 1999: 20). We are reminded that although the front-on method of photography is associated with objectivity and the oblique view with a subjective representation, they are both expressive devices (Robinson & Herschman, 1988: introduction) and as such are both valid ways of making critical statements about architecture (ibid.). That the Bechers employ the use of the front-on position is no surprise. Their work harks back to the tradition of the encyclopaedic project (Marcoci, 2005: 12) which used a similar but less controlled method of representation informed by the architectural draughting standards of the plan, section and elevation (Lenman, 2005: 45). Emphasis here was upon the documentation of never seen before referents for originality, rather than the recent pre-occupation with technique to make a critical statement (Robinson & Herschman, 1988: introduction). To help achieve clarity in their photographs, Bernd and Hilla Becher use a large format, analogue camera, which due to its precision manufacture and large negative size can be adjusted to eliminate any distortion through the lens (Mack, 1999: 20) and the back plate which holds the negative can also be tilted to correct the effects of perspective (Schulman, 2000: 23). They work from a slightly raised position to enable them to organise the picture around a central point of perspective (Mack, 1999: 20). Any corrections that they make are to keep the resulting image in direct relation to the ideas of Cartesian space and orthographic draughting techniques. Namely, they will select the correct focal length lens for distance between the camera and the building to eliminate any curvature of the image, and they will also tilt the back plate so that straight lines remain parallel to each other and to the edge of the picture plane.

Figure 5: Bernhard and Hilla Becher, Industrial facades, each 18 x 22 framed.


This link between the Bechers work and the encyclopaedic project does not end here though. Through being photographed, something becomes part of a system of information, fitted into schemes of classification and storage (Sontag, 1979: 156). Photography displaces architecture from its original setting into an image-idea that can be transported (Schwarzer, 2004: 175). Consequently buildings from different places and periods could be placed side-by-side and compared with each other (ibid.:

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176). Thus the development of photography during the second half of the nineteenth century may have contributed to the emerging field of architectural history, helping advance its arguments on both connoisseurship and stylistic succession (ibid. 175). The Bechers usually show the buildings they photograph as types, arraying typologically similar features from different complexes (ibid.). This changes our reception of the images from focusing on the relationship between composition of the faade, to a comparison of features within certain groupings (ibid.). This comparison is primarily intended to take place within the context of the gallery which has established for itself a discursive framework which centres around aesthetic discourse, and what constitutes the status of Art. Rosalind Krauss argues that photographs assume a certain expectation in the user of the image through the knowledge they communicate (Krauss, 1985: 132). In her critique of Photographys Discursive Spaces Krauss states that the gallery wall became the signifier of inclusion with everything that was excluded being marginalized with regard to its status as Art (ibid.). It follows that architectural photography has not always been considered an art. There had always been a strong link between the architecture and its photographic representation and had quickly been established as a classic subject matter for photographers (Robinson & Herschman, 1988: introduction). But the depictions of buildings, structures and cityscapes had been adopted by publishers of books and journals who employed photographs as a reference or as proof of something built or event occurred. This displaced the idea that photography could be thought of as an art, which had as a consequence of photography been pushed to be more experimental and less representative (Gombrich, 2002: 524). It took until the re-organisation of knowledge referred to as postmodernism (Lyotard, 1997) for the photograph to be accepted onto the gallery wall and by this time architectural discourses were heavily reliant upon photography as a system of representation (Crimp in Wells, 2003: 423). The photographs of the Bechers attempt a closure of meaning which could be interpreted as a final act of publication in which the ultimate signification is enclosed (Mitchell, 1999: 51). Their work is an example of a high level of attempted control over the representation of architecture, which extends to the way that the photograph can be interpreted after its final closure. This is very much representative of modern objective thought which implied that meaning was inherent in the image, rather than something that is socially constructed a thought which was posited by Barthes in 1977 (Schwarzer, 2004: 172). I have considered the Bechers as modern architectural photographers, who use objectifying techniques as a means of preserving the buildings they photograph and entering them into history. I have considered the role of the gallery in their work and the way that they use it to discuss photography as a means of objective representation. I have also considered the way modern architectural photography built - 13 -

discursive spaces upon its assertion of truth and reliability within systems of information. I will now consider the work of Thomas Demand, who opposes the modern notion of photographic proof.

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Chapter 4 Thomas Demand Constructed Realities In this chapter I will examine the work of Thomas Demand who opposes the staged nature of modern photography. I will discuss his photographic technique and the way his criticism functions through the use of incongruous imperfections in his otherwise perfect models. I will then discuss the thoughts of Beatriz Colomina in greater depth, on the relationship between modern architecture and architectural photography. I will consider her assertion that much modern architecture was constructed for exhibition and the camera. I will finally place Demands work in the context of postmodern thought. Demand constructs with his works, consigning to the viewer the same tools with which it begins to become legitimate to be suspicious of any image. The That has been of Barthes, the irrefutable proof of existence of the photographic referent is no longer valid here. And yet, each encounter with an image by Demand seems to renew our fascination with images, and simultaneously our desire to question them (Beccaria, 2002: 28) Thomas Demands photographic technique starts by culling images from the media, these are usually sites of political and social significance. He then recreates these images in three-dimensional form from paper and card. With a camera angle in mind, Demand creates sculpture that in reality is deformed by the camera and constructed around the lens. The camera makes an imprint upon these models, which are built at life-size, so that the final photograph is formally perfect and as intended apart from small imperfections which are a clue to the fabricated nature of these photographs.

Figure 6: Thomas Demand - Draughting Room C-print/Diasec 183.5 x 285cm.


These incongruous imperfections are not initially easy to find, but start to become more apparent the more closely we study Demands photographs. Besides, there is an unusual flatness to all of his images; light reflects from the matte surfaces of the paper and card in an unsettlingly consistent way, - 15 -

which immediately causes one to think that the image is wrong. The photographs are too perfect, too clean and too consistent but this is all resisted by the thought that it must be representing something that is real. Thomas Demands photographs work against the notion of the real in photography. By creating something that is so real in mediation with the camera, he forces us to discover that these are a constructed reality. The Sinar large format camera which Demand uses for his work allows maximum control over the resultant image and renders an extremely sharp image with subtle gradients from light to dark and from hue to hue. This maximum control results from the way the lens can be angled or tilted to correct distortions caused by the lens and the proximity of the camera to the photographed subject. This kind of large format camera also has precision interchangeable lenses allowing different focal length lenses to be attached which would be decided upon by the operator to best suit the project. Each of these lenses will have unique characteristics, which will depend upon the type of optical glass used in the lens, the configuration and number of the converging and diverging elements and the particular type of effect the lens designer wanted to achieve with his design (Langford, 1998: 17). Demand originally photographed his work as a means of documenting his sculptures before they fell apart. When he photographed them though, he noticed certain optical distortions were occurring altering the formal relationships of the initial sculpturesHe [then] began to duplicate each of his sculptures, in order to render a second version with proportions intended solely for the photographic lens (Beccaria: 2002: 8). The spatial distortions, initially unforeseen, were developed intentionally and controlled by the artist, who designed each model with the point of view from which he would photograph it in mind (ibid.: 8). With the photographs that Thomas Demand produces for the context of the gallery he follows in a line of photographers who opt to use very large Diasec photographs, such as Andreas Gursky. In many ways these photographs with their bold colours, exactly controlled statements and size could be considered to be more than real, they could be considered to be hyper-real. Producing a new reality within the confines of the frame (Colomina, 1999: 80). With Demands work this apparent hyper-reality which exudes from the photograph serves to emphasise the way we perceive photography as a truth. So much greater is the re-vision once we realise that what is represented is not a tangible reality as our initial perception asserts but that what is represented is actually a fabrication.

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Figure 7: Thomas Demands 2006 exhibition at the Serpentine Gallery Photographs could be considered hyper-real.
Thomas Demands work hints to and criticises the modern tendency to photograph buildings un-inhabited, un-used and literally staged. Much architectural photography, particularly that which is commissioned shows buildings as new and pristine, before occupation and use (Schwarzer, 2004: 171). It became a trait of many modern architectural photographers such as Ezra Stoller, Julius Schulman and Bill Heidrich to re-discover the original intention of the architect through photography. This mode of working drew heavily from the position that architecture is a conceptual matter to be resolved in the realm of ideas, that when architecture is built it gets mixed with the world of phenomena and necessarily looses its purity. And yet it is significant that when this same built architectural piece enters the twodimensional space of the printed page it returns to the realm of ideas (Colomina, 1999: 114). Colomina argues that much of the modern architecture that we are now familiar with was built in the exhibition context and thus was dissembled after several months of display. Significantly all that remained were the photographs that had been taken which were then disseminated in a variety of contexts (Colomina in Colomina and Kluge, 2006: 22). This is significant because of the way that we learn about many modern buildings which may have been destroyed or dismantled - solely through photography rather than experience. With these examples of modern architecture we have to rely upon the photographs as evidence of the built experience and also the narrative constructed by the photographer. Even though this is the case, photography can establish canonical works such as the German Pavilion, Barcelona 1929 by Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe. The German Pavilion or Barcelona Pavilion as it is more commonly termed is a prime example of what Colomina refers to as being architecture as a media construction and has coincidentally now been re-built. We could consider that Demands work is the consequence of a re-appraisal of architectural photography as an art and as a cultural record. This re-appraisal constituted a re-reading of these historical - 17 -

photographic representations of architecture in a new context. We must realise that in order for this new aesthetic understanding to occur, other ways of photography must be dismantled and destroyed (Crimp in Wells: 2003: 423). Crimp states that this re-appraisal or new aesthetic understanding is part of a much more complex re-distribution of knowledge taking place throughout our culture. This redistribution is associated with the term postmodernism (ibid.: 424). He argues that as a modernist practice photography could not function as art because it was too constrained by the world that was photographed, too dependant upon the discursive structures in which it was embedded (ibid.: 424). Integral to this redistribution of knowledge was the construction of a specialised history of architectural photography. If the principal conditions for establishing such a history were access to large bodies of original and published work, and a theoretical framework within which to organise material and to situate representative and seminal bodies of work, then these conditions did not exist before the early 1980s (Lenman: 2005: 44). Krauss questions if this retrospective construction of history is not illegitimate, the composition of a false history (Krauss, 1985: 134) and particularly comments upon the transposition photographic material from the discursive space of literature and their consequent reconstruction in the wall of exhibition (ibid.). Decorously isolated on the wall of the exhibition, the objects can be read according to a logic that insists on their representational character within the discursive space of art, in an attempt to legitimate them (ibid.). I have argued that Thomas Demand opposes the truth status of photography through the construction and photographing of models and the way that his photographs act as a criticism of staged photography. I have linked his work to the theories of Beatriz Colomina and have placed his work in the arena of the postmodern. In the next chapter I will go on to consider the work of Josef Schulz who challenges the truth status of photography in a less constructivist and more deconstructivist manner.

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Chapter 5 Josef Schulz Digitised Subjectivity In this chapter I will discuss the work of Josef Schulz, particularly in the context of postmodern digital imaging. I will investigate how Schulz makes his images subjective and link this to the uncertainties of science and digitisation. I will argue that digitisation leads to a perception of a loss of credibility in the photograph, but this does not lead to a complete negation of the truth status of the photograph. But others will see the emergence of digital imaging as a welcome opportunity to expose the aporias in photographys construction of the world, to deconstruct the very ideas of photographic objectivity and closure, and to resist what has become an increasingly sclerotic pictorial tradition (Mitchell: 1998: 8) If Thomas Demands photographs constitute a constructed reality playing on the truth status of the photograph, then Josef Schulzs work constitutes a deconstruction of the photograph and a heavily analytic method of achieving a final image. But if this is indeed a deconstruction, it is a deconstruction of the conceived ideas about photography; of convention and the way architecture is projected onto a plane. Schulz accepts the subjectivity of the photograph, his quest is to show us just how subjective photographs can be, particularly in the age of digitisation. He does this by digitally manipulating the analogue photographs he takes on a 5x4 medium format camera (Ewing: 2005: 172). His aim is to remove any visual clues that could specifically link to a particular place, time or environment (ibid.). The resultant images, masquerading as photographs are highly subjective and uniquely his own.

Figure 8: Josef Schulz, Form#10, 2004. C-Print 120 x 170 cm.

Figure 9: Josef Schulz, Brick 2003. C-Print 100 x 130 cm.

Josef Schulz, in contrast to the Bechers employs the use of the oblique view to construct his photographs. These result in a more expressive and spatial mode of description than the front-on view (Robinson & Herschman, 1988: Introduction). In terms of perspective representation, this spatial description is achieved by using the camera to construct a two-point perspective by means of orientation with the referent of the picture. This, instead of rendering the picture plane flat, opens up the plane which inherits spatial characteristics.

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These images become like Albertis finestra aperta or Benjamins window. But Schulz does not visualise an ideal world, nor does he show us a place that we would want to be his photographs are like a computer screen where facts seem indistinguishable from falsehoods and fictions and where immanent paradox continually threatens to undermine established certainties (Mitchell, 1999: 191). His photographs are of modern pre-fabricated buildings, their ubiquity lends itself to his intentions of subjectivity and digital intervention (ibid.). Mitchell links the postmodern era to digital images, stating that we can assume the tools of digital imaging are more felicitously adapted to the diverse projects of our postmodern era (ibid.: 8). The involvement in digital media also has ramifications for the closure of the image In general, computer files are open to modification at any time, and mutant versions proliferate rapidly and endlessly (Mitchell, 1999: 51). This causes a change in our conception of art as stable, enduring, finished works (ibid: 52) to one which acknowledges the possibility of continual change. The optical truth of the image hence becomes depleted and questionable (ibid.). Benjamins age of mechanical reproduction (Benjamin in Wells, 2003: 43) is superseded by the age of digital replication (Mitchell, 1999: 52). As soon as the image is captured onto digital media, Schulz starts to remove information from the photograph. It is highly significant that Schulz should use the technique of digitising the image as this transposes the photograph into another mode of representation whose difference is grounded in fundamental physical characteristics that have logical and cultural consequences (ibid.: 4). The once analogue photograph is transposed into a raster grid which is a two-dimensional array of integers (ibid.: 5). Each integer is linked to a cell based upon a finite Cartesian sub-division known as a pixel (ibid.). The photograph becomes digital image. What is significant in this procedure is that once again a conception of Cartesian space is imposed on the image and that this enables quick and easy manipulation by computer (ibid.: 7) but more importantly that this intervention could be invisible or undetectable. The loss of information in Schulzs photographs when considered in analogue terms is rather a change of information in digital terms. This change of information is done to isolate the images from any context that may be inherent, any hints at place. This technique is not unlike the method that Le Corbusier used to decontextualise and impose a purist aesthetic upon the published images of Villa Schwob (Colomina, 1999: 107). By eliminating site he makes architecture into an object relatively independent of place (ibid.). That we know they are manipulated causes us to look for incongruities, to try and place the photographs somewhere and to construct an identity. The photographs are anonymous and consequently become filled with our character. Even without the knowledge of alteration there is something that does

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not make sense. Junctions between forms do not seem to correspond, there is something intrinsic to the image that shouts photoshop but it is hard if not impossible to pin down or identify exactly where or how it has been done. The more you study the photographs of Josef Schulz, the more you question that anything contained is actually real or actually existed. This is the paradoxical nature of his photographs, that in a similar way to Demand causes us to question the reality and the authenticity of the photographic image. I have proposed that Josef Schulzs photographs are in actuality digital images masquerading as photographs. I have argued that the subjectivity of the images is derived from the uncertainty of the digital processes he subjects his images to, the oblique view he uses to compose his photographs, and also from the lack of information regarding place and environment. The type of process he subjects his photographs to is emblematic of a postmodern deconstruction, but this amounts to more a change of information rather than a physical deconstruction and thus is really a deconstruction of the ideas underlying photography particularly its optical truth. I will now go on to consider the relation between the optical truth of photography and architecture, looking particularly at the way modern architecture utilised optical truth to preserve its buildings and the architectural consequences of a postmodern break with objectivity.

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Chapter 6 Optical Truth and Architecture In this chapter I will examine the relation between canonical works of the modern project and optical truth. I will argue that modern discursive spaces still operate around optical truth and that their postmodern critique is found in the gallery space. I will state that postmodern thought evident in photographic representation, notably the break with modern notion of objectivity, was also evident in the physical and theoretical formations of architectural practise. It then became clear to me that it was not the task of architecture to invent form. I tried to understand what that task was. I asked Peter Behrens, but he could not give me an answer. He did not ask the question. The others said, What we build is architecture, but we werent satisfied with this answersince we knew that it was a question of truth, we tried to find out what truth really was. We were very delighted to find a definition of truth by St. Thomas Aquinas: Adequatio intellectus et rei, or as a modern philosopher expresses it in the language of today: Truth is the significance of fact (Mies Van der Rohe 1961, in Frampton, 2002: 161) There was a strong relation between the now canonical works of modern architecture and the optical truth status of photography. This was primarily derived from the closed perfection that the architect strove to achieve through composition of form, structure, proportion and materiality. Photography was undoubtedly the best medium to preserve the building, not only from the environment, but also from the future and worldly phenomena returning the building to the realm of ideas (Colomina, 1999: 114). This interaction with the realm of ideas also allowed an integration to history through comparative and classificatory systems that sought to place architecture socially, politically and culturally. The emergence of these systems coincided with the rise of the media representation to heighten the importance of the image in the architectural sphere. It was no coincidence that structure started to be emphasised and walls rendered at the same time that photography was starting to become a primary form of representation in architecture (Haus, 1997: 85). This emphasis of structure and rendering of walls was adapted to the black and white photographs of the time guaranteeing a preservation of the building in the way intended by the architect. This mode of practise was existent at the time when academic journals, architectural periodicals and architectural history texts were beginning to use photographs as their primary sources of evidence to prove event occurred of more aptly building built. These emerging discourses were primarily constructed because there was a need to disseminate architectural information throughout the profession. This required a certain authority, and alongside a credible editorial team, credible photographs were used in a generic way to communicate new and past achievements of the profession.

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Figures 10 & 11 : German Pavilion, Barcelona (Reconstruction), Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe. Photograph by Stelljes Bau.
These, of course, are discourses that operate primarily around the notions of empiricism, rationality and progress. Because of these foundations they had good cause to publish only aesthetically pleasing pictures that put their establishment and architecture into a good light. To print bad pictures would be to undermine their profession and their livelihood. And so began the rise in the importance of the photographic image; not only as a preservation of the architectural spatial construct but also as a means of communication; on one level as a signifier of progress, rationality and empiricism, and on another level the signifier of a product being placed into a market. Each one of these notions were dependant upon credible and truthful images as a representation of architectural values. This strong link between optical truth, architecture and its representation in printed discourses is still evident today, which maintains the evidential truth of a photograph. This is the way that the discourses have been constructed, accordingly, they are resistant to attack or criticism. These discourses could be said to be self-regulating systems, and because of this have resisted criticism from semiotic analysis and later from postmodern critique (Kember in Wells, 2003: 202). This is why architecture is still presented through printed media as fact; significantly true. The same conditions do not, however, occur in the discursive space of the gallery; a different type of knowledge is required (Krauss, 1985: 132). The gallery wall is where the critique of optical truth occurs; the mere act of placing a picture of modern architecture on the gallery wall stimulates criticism and comment. Only when read as postmodern art do the photographs of Demand and Schulz take on their full meaning. But where it seems logical and instinctive to draw comparisons between the work of the Bechers and the canons of modern architecture with its distinct categories and taxonomies the same task is not as easy when considering postmodern architecture. The work of Demand and Schulz is certainly postmodern, attempting to distance themselves from modernist dictum and both incorporating a certain irony in their work. But

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their architectural comparison is hard, if not impossible to find. Still, both oppose the modern concept of optical truth, and in doing so they also oppose the modern theoretical foundations for its formation. Postmodernity, then, could be said to be united in its opposition of modernity; opposed to its underlying tradition and/or its dominant mythologies (Grundberg, 1999: 6). Critics have identified two contradictory strains of postmodernism a postmodernism of reaction that repudiates modernism and celebrates the status quo, and a postmodernism of resistance that attempts to continue the project of modernism while subjecting it to critical re-evaluation (Leach, 1999: 207). Paradoxically, neither can completely reject modernity because it is too reliant upon the discursive spaces created by modern practise to function. It is as though postmodernism, while trying to oppose modernism, has selected parts and incorporated them into its own way of looking at the world. The postmodern declaration is, then, first and foremost, to do with ideas and subjectivity, how we think and signify: it is not primarily a claim concerning material reality (McGuigan, 1999: 2), but even if these thoughts are not primarily to do with material reality, they find their materiality through architecture and consequent representation through architectural photography. McGuigan goes on to state that the declaration is supported by the assumption that there is no objectively discernable reality; in any case, not one situated beyond thought and signification (ibid.). Consequently, if there is no objectivity, then there can be no closed perfection. This break away from objectivity is not without ramifications for architecture, which has responded at both physical and theoretical levels. On a physical level this is most commonly understood to be characterised by spatial and syntactic ambiguity, the re-introduction of symbolic form, a playful historicist irony and the use of surface iconography. On a theoretical level opposition took on deconstruction and cultural theory as a way of opposing the underlying ideas of modernity. Primarily, postmodernism intended to create new spaces and ways of working, which allowed freedom away from the rules that modernity had imposed. Postmodernism brought about an end to the modern ideas of objectivity and closure in architecture, and in so doing, challenged the modern foundations upon which architecture stands. In this chapter I have examined the relation between canonical works of modern architecture and optical truth. Coming to the conclusion that the canons of modern architecture exhibited a reliance upon optical truth not only to preserve their buildings, but because of a growing relationship with emerging discourses, namely within architectural publications and the discourse of architectural history. I argued that the postmodern critique of optical truth is found in the discursive space of the gallery and that a break away from objectivity also had consequences for architecture. In my final chapter I will now summarise the key points of my study and conclude my argument.

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Chapter 7 Conclusion Throughout this thesis I have attempted to trace a relationship between optical truth, architecture and its representation through photography. I placed the representation of architecture into a continuum that runs from analogue objectivity to digital subjectivity and argued that the canons of modern architecture were reliant upon the optical truth of photography to uphold their truth, honesty and clarity of design intention. I argued that this practice was compounded by the emergence of modern discourses which relied upon the photograph as a source of evidence to elucidate their arguments and further their own causes. The notion of optical truth lies in the analogical paradigms of the camera obscura, of Cartesian space and perspectivalism which still permeate our conceptions of the photograph (Damisch in Wells, 2003: 88). Although this is the case, we are having to re-evaluate our understanding of the photograph in the light of digital imaging technologies due to the uncertainties of manipulation and closure, which have upset the causal relationship evident in analogue processes (Grundberg, 1999; Kember, 1998; Mitchell, 1999, Ritchin, 1990, Rosler, 2004). My discussion considered the relation of proof to the photograph and established that photography exerts a control over us in the way we learn about and understand our position in the world socially and historically (Kember, 1998: 18). The Bechers are examples of photographers who uphold modern tradition of using objectifying techniques as a means of preserving the buildings they photograph and entering them into architectural history. They use the wall of the gallery to discuss photography as a means of objective, truthful representation (Schwarzer, 2004: 175) and show how modern architectural photography built discursive spaces upon its assertion of truth and reliability within systems of information (Sontag, 1979: 156). Thomas Demand and Josef Schulz on the other hand oppose the truth status of photography. While Demand causes us to question truth through fabricating models based upon mediated images, Schulz deconstructs the meaning behind the image by subjecting it to the process of digitisation and alteration. Through examining the relationship between optical truth, architecture and its representation I conclude that the canons of modern architecture exhibited a reliance upon optical truth not only to preserve their buildings, but to develop the growing relationship with emerging discourses, namely within architectural publications and the discourse of architectural history. These discourses are still functioning today and still rely heavily upon optical truth, even if postmodern architecture no longer strives to achieve an ultimate objective truth. Finally, a break with the modern idea of objectivity occurred in both photography and architecture. Causing a response on both physical and theoretical levels and an imposition of subjective perception upon the built environment.

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Recommendations for Further Research Throughout my research I have been looking at the way that architecture is presented as an optical truth in photography. I feel that there has been little research into this subject and think that this is partially due to the way that a reliance upon the photographic image has been internalised into architectural practise to communicate information; more explicitly, I feel that within printed discourse we accept the authoritative thrust of photographic representation too readily because of its nature as evidence in this context. I feel that this is part of a larger more complex intersection of social, cultural and economic factors that were beyond the scope and time-frame of this research. Accordingly I would recommend a continuation of research into this area, looking particularly at the way discursive spaces have been constructed around photography as evidence, and the way they seemingly hold a degree of authority and control because of this.

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Appendix 1

Figure 12
Administration building, California, Uncorrected.

Figure 13
Administration building, California, Corrected.

Taken from the same point with a large format camera these photographs show how dramatically the tilting or perspective controls can effect the final image.

Figure 14 Wide angle view

Figure 15 Normal angle view

Figure 16 Narrow angle view

Taken from exactly the same point these pictures show the effect of increasing the focal length of the lens.

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