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Imaging Architecture
Iain Borden, "Imaging Architecture: Dialectical Imagery and Temporality in Architectural History," Journal of Architecture, v.12 n.1 (2007), pp. 57–77. AIMS & QUESTIONS Photography in architectural history is often used in a highly conventional manner, simply to depict, describe or identify the buildings under discussion. This paper considers alternative imaging strategies – dialectical imaging and temporality – to show how various social, political and other meanings of architecture may be created by photographs as well as by the written word. Concepts derived from Brecht, Benjamin and Hildebrand are used to expand on notions of the dialectic and temporality, and the latter in particular is developed into sub-categories of the everyday, the event, dissemination and the narrative. The paper has two research aims. (1) To explore the ways in which architectural photography has conventionally been used in architectural history and other architectural writings (2) To propose new ways of using architectural photography through tactics of dialectical imaging and temporality. METHODS The paper is an interdisciplinary enquiry involving architectural history, the history of photography and visual theory. It is based on the intersection of three main research methods. (1) An analysis of architectural texts and other publications which utilise photography. (2) An analysis of the work of architectural photographers, using publications and archival collections (3) An investigation of visual theory, using texts by, inter alia, John Berger, Adolf Hildebrand and, in particular, Walter Benjamin. The author’s own photographs are also used to explore some of the ideas discussed in the paper. CONTEXTS The paper sits within a broad concern with the history of architectural and urban experience, i.e. with the history of architecture after it has been constructed, and investigating the various ways in which cities and their architecture are continually reproduced through different experiences, idea and codings. DISSEMINATION Different versions of the content and ideas of this paper have been published as “Mais que fait ce pingouin dans le bassin?/What Is That Penguin Doing In That Pool?,” Architecture d’Aujourd Hui, n.354 (September-October 2004), pp. 44-53, and, with Jane Rendell, as “Private Reflections/Public Matters: Public Art in the City,” Richard Cándida Smith (ed.), Art and the Performance of Memory: Sounds and Gestures of Recollection, (Routledge, 2002), pp. 266-83. Eight public lectures and conference papers on this subject have been delivered in the UK, USA and Germany.
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  • The Bartlett School of Architecture
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