Constructing Worlds

1. Constructing Worlds Exhibition at Barbican

Berenice Abbott

"The dramatic angles sought to interrogate the new urbanity by confronting the city's dark underside, capturing the tenement blocks that reflected New York's social reality"

 

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City Arabesque , 1938/ Rockerfeller Center Construction, 1932/ Broadway and Exchange Place, 1932

I think the way Abbott plays with camera angle is really nice. It's either looking down or looking up, revealing the height of the buildings in New York. In City Arabesque, the fact that she took a shot downward makes the photo stands out from the usual scenery shot taken from the view point. The shot reveals both the structure of the building she has taken the picture from and also the cityscape of NY overall. 

 

 

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Helene Binet 

"The photographs lead you through labyrinthine passages and caverns of concrete, capturing fragments of space and glimpses of the Deconstructivist monument that reveal the qualities the architect bestowed on the building to represent the traumatic history of the Jewish people."

 

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Jewish Museum, Berlin, 1997

The main emphasis in these photographs are how the structure interact with light from outdoor to create shapes on the floor of the museum. The structure seems quite empty because there's only the natural interaction. In the mean time, this emptiness forces the audience to take a closer look at the structure itself, of the way the uneven walls or the cutout are allowing them to get a glimpse of what the architecture actually looks like in real life.

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Constructing Worlds: Photography and Architecture in the Modern Age

"Constructing Worlds brings together eighteen exceptional photographers from the 1930s to the present day who have changed the way we view architecture and perceive the world around us. From the first skyscrapers in New York and decaying colonial structures in the Congo, to the glamorous suburban homes of post-war California, and the modern towers of Venezuela, we invite you on a global journey through 20th and 21st century architecture. Featuring over 250 works, this exhibition highlights the power of photography in revealing hidden truths in our society."

Taken from http://www.barbican.org.uk/artgallery/event-detail.asp?ID=16264

 

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Hiroshi Sugimoto

‘A finished building is a product of negotiation; I used an out-of-focus technique in an effort to regain a sense of the architect’s core idealist vision for the building’ 

 

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Barragan House, 2002/ Guggenheim Museum, 1997

I didn't quite like Suhimoto's work at the first glance when I was entering the room at the exhibition. I thought the pictures are too plained for my taste, but the more I look at them, the more I've become attracted to them. The blurriness makes me want to keep looking at the images perhaps because I was trying to make out what detail is what. The way Sugimoto incorporates blurriness into simple organic shapes of the building was very interesting because it doesn't confuse the audience but rather compliment the architecture itself perfectly.

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Andreas Gursky 

"is renowned for making monumental photographs depicting the landscape and structures of late capitalism including airports, night clubs, stock exchanges and discount shops. He regularly uses digital technology to alter reality; to manipulate facts in order to tell a greater truth."

 

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Paris, Montparnsse, 1993/ Sao Paolo, Se, 2002

At the first glance, Gursky's work seems boring because repetition is the most obvious element found in this work. I actually assumed that he photoshopped the same of part of the building over and over again to create a big piece, however, when observed closely, all the element in the photographs are different. He did digitally edited but just to add colour and to join several photographs taken of a place together. His style of work is very distinctive and stands out from other exhibits because his work requires observation and cannot be missed by anyone with its color and repetition.

 

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*All the quoted information is taken from the exhibition description at Barbican Gallery.

*Images are shown in the gallery, but no photograph permitted, so I found them online.

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Lucien Herve

"Hervé’s photography is characterised by the use of dynamic contrasts — light and dark, rough and smooth, mass and void — an approach that enabled him to create the illusion of three-dimensionality by capturing the sculptural attributes and expressiveness of concrete. "

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Secretariat, Chandigarch, India, 1955

I absolutely love this series of photo because of its perfect combination of simplicity and complexity. The shapes form by the light is simple like squares or just irregular shapes with linear lines. These simple shapes help intensify the structure of the building even more and make the photos into much more complex pieces. From faraway, the images look like some kind of pattern and quite abstract. The audience have to observe the images closely to be able to distinguish the element in them. I think this is a good strategy of inviting the people to come and take a closer look at photography.

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Guy Tillim 

"These photographs are not collapsed histories of post-colonial African states or a meditation on aspects of late-modernist colonial structures, but a walk through avenues of dreams. Patrice Lumumba’s dream, his nationalism, is discernible in the structures, if one reads certain clues, as is the death of his dream, in these de facto monuments. How strange that modernism, which eschewed monument and past for nature and future, should carry such memory so well."

 

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Grande Hotel, Beira, Mozambique, 2008

The architecture looks ruined and not a place for anybody to be living in. Although Tillim didn't include any residents in these photos, the photo speaks for itself. In the lower image, Tillim took the shot looking down, overseeing a whole lot of the building. There are washed clothe handing at the terrance throughout the floors. It is clear that a lot of people must be living in this structure judging from the footprint they're leaving for the audience to observe. The staircase photograph is perhaps quite a grande entrance only if it's completed. However, in the picture, it looks empty and not somewhere anybody would be walking pass or use the stair at all.

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Iwan Baan

"The rising tower is now patterned with irregular brick balustrades, curtains and other signs of domestic life. With architectural rigour, Baan documents the form of the original Torre David complex without romanticising it as a ruin or demonising its Modernist aspirations. His photographs provide evidence of how the building was constructed and — more interestingly — how it has been modified by its 3000-odd residents, as well as how it is managed and navigated."

 

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Torre David series, 2011

This series of photograph not only show the housing structure people in Torre David are living in, but also show the connection between people living there and the architecture itself. The structure itself is incomplete and could possibly be called abandoned structure, on the other hand, with interfere with residents, who modify the building in accord to their needs, have changed the way they interact with the building that used to be incomplete. I think it's very thorough of Baan to capture the images from different perspective of how different residents with different lifestyle are able to make the space into their own like in the above images of outdoor fitness and a hairdresser.

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