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(in-) visible

Remarks on architecture and photography

A photograph consists mainly of paper or plastic. Due to its shallow depth, it can be claimed to be two-dimensional. The odor of a photograph is slight, its format for the most part rectangular. On the side of the photograph with the exposure there is, blurred to a greater or lesser degree, a two-dimensional image. This image is generated by two projections: first, the projection of a motif on the negative, and then the projection of the negative on photographic paper. The resulting image of the motif could be termed a success if the motif in the picture is recognizable. Recognition calls for the beholder to possess more or less great knowledge about the motif. The more is known about the motif, the easier it becomes to draw a conclusion about the motif based on the image in question. 3502, 1995 (37 x 55 cm)
Once one has taken a walking tour through a house, a sense of what that house is like takes complete shape in one's mind. The memory of having seen individual parts combines them to form a whole, although it doesn't provide proof of its visual existence.
A photograph allows only one view of a house. Modifying the position of the observer with respect to the photograph reveals nothing about what is invisible. The less one knows about a motif, the more the observer is constrained to rely upon his or her knowledge and visual experience. The photograph acts as the projection screen for the person viewing it.
To grasp architecture, the observer must be in motion. Architecture can be seen internally and externally. The surroundings and the path leading to the momentary point of view both play an important role. A photograph cannot reflect this. In the photograph, movement comes to a standstill, and space becomes two-dimensional. Direct experience of the motif's surroundings are not on hand.
The photograph is autonomous, and in its autonomy it has its own surroundings beyond the motif involved, its own path which went before the act of observation. The invisible is a fixed component of architecture. A photograph, as such, shows everything. It is only in the viewing that the "invisible" is added to it; the projection screen is great and the apparent proximity to the "reality" of the motif enticing. In the process, the photograph itself is quick to disappear, and the trap of putative knowledge snaps shut.

Jörg Sasse, 1996