Sunday, November 9, 2008

Image Impotency

The op-ed that I published on archinect is a condensed version of the original essay which went into more details about why I think architectural imagery has reached a low point in recent years. I wanted to keep the editorial short and positive. Here is the part that I cut out on the recent impotent imagery of architecture:

Architecture is currently experiencing an unprecedented exposure in mass media. Television, newspapers, and particularly the internet inundate us with a continuous onslaught of architectural imagery. At the moment that the production and consumption of architectural images has reached its most prolific point in history it has simultaneously achieved its maximum impotency. To me this has occurred for three primary reasons. First, the desire for increased shock and spectacle and the focus on icons has lead to the creation of architectural caricatures, which, while we can sit and pray for the icon endgame there appears to be none in sight. This is a discussion that has existed for decades, if not longer, and was probably most poetically debated by Walter Benjamin and Theodore Adorno in their correspondences of the 1930s so I will refer you to them for further reading. This point is more related to a discussion on the symbolic and representational nature of the architectural object itself, and I prefer in this text to discuss the images themselves.

On that note, the first reason for architectural imagery’s increased impotence is the architect’s loss of control over image quality and content to clients and marketing groups who want to insure the marketability, 'originality', and inoffensive nature of their architectural products, with many projects remaining confidential until their official ‘launch date’. The second, in my opinion, is the giving up of the image production itself to rendering companies, such as dbox, Auralab, and Crystal CG, which has lead to the corporatization and homogenization of architectural images. In my opinion we as a profession our misusing this unprecedented access to the media and it is time to reconsider the role of the image and its potential efficacy.


Anonymous said...

MVRDV have statistics which stating that architecture is at its lowest point in terms of media exposure in human history. Not sure where you get your data from.

Dave Brown said...

hmmm...i don't really have any data. just a hunch. so you got me there. maybe i'm too focused on the architecture media which seems to have an ever increasing output (including annoying under-researched blogs like this one) but probably compared to the media-at-large it's presence is actually diminishing as you say MVRDV's data suggests.

where can i find MVRDV's statistics on the subject?

btw, thanks for alerting me to this misleading info!