On the architectural structure of photographic space

  • YEAR
    Christenson, Mike
    2010 Conference Papers


ABSTRACT: The ambiguous relationship between photography and architecture is one of constructed
and re-constructed identity. As a specific exploration into this relationship, this paper considers the
construct of point-of-view/field-of-view maps (or POV/FOV maps), that is, diagrams which register
photographers’ positions, fields of view, and directions of view corresponding to a set of photographs of
an existing work of architecture. A POV/FOV map can be expected to differ according to whether the
set of photographs under consideration is (a) sampled from a image-sharing site such as Flickr; (b)
published in an academic monograph, or (c) published in the popular press.

This paper tests the extent and significance of these differences through a comparative study of Mies
van der Rohe’s Crown Hall and Rem Koolhaas’s McCormick Tribune Campus Center, both at the
Illinois Institute of Technology in Chicago, USA. In both cases, POV/FOV maps are used to compare
sets of professional or academic photographs to sets of touristic and popular-press ones. The
comparison reflects the tenuous nature of architectural identity as constructed through photography
and both confirms and denies assumptions concerning differences between professional and amateur

The paper concludes with the speculation that tools like Google Street View are likely to further erode
traditional distinctions between modes of identity-construction, in particular, those distinctions which a
POV/MAP can register.


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