Discussion on the IMAGE \\ Jonathan Henry

I think that an important topic to begin the discussion, especially before I start posting images of art and design, is the power of the image.

Recently revived in my own career, the notion of the image is a very specific type of representation. The role of the architect is to produce the image. For some architects this image manifests through the creation of drawing set to instruct others on how to construct their designs. The old adage goes, “the role of the architect is not to build buildings but to create drawings to show others how to build buildings.” Others take the creation of images in a slightly less tangible way. These architects are the ones that don’t build. They are the architects that use the images that they create as a vehicle to convey their ideas about architecture.

It has been thought that to impact the architectural discourse that physical manifestation was necessary, and still today, some in the architectural community require just that. Coming out of the Post modern, figureheads implored the use of form as dialogue. Especially after the construction, these designs met their strongest ability to convey specific ideas. Not created through drawings or representations of the building but through their physicality. Post-modernism sought for the form of the building reaching down and grabbing onto carnal understanding that society has stored and taps into their old archetypes. Philosophers suggested differentiation and unification of signs, the signified, and signifiers. This modus operandi found that within each arch, each colonnade hides organic knowledge of architecture that conveys ‘meaning’ to the audience.

Coming out of this postmodern obsession grows the contemporary view architectures role. It is always the intent of any designer to covey message. Messages range from intellectual capitulation, utopian promise and sheer aesthetic pleasure. Architecture has become an art form where the purpose is to create the image to convey information.

The first set of image makers would suggest that without the realization of space, that the role of the architect is lost “the architect is the creator and conditioner of space”. Well to this we reply that the implication of space and spatial effect are created through the image and sometimes understood as Affect. One such case is the use of the section. We will never be able to see a building in section and yet the section is a wildly accepted form of representation. We look at the axon in the same respects. The lack of perspective removes us from reality but yet is able to emphasize the façade and the movements in the form in a completely new way. Here the signs of formal manipulation are emphasized. Even in this extended digitized work and design, the rendered image is the product and not just the representation. These images convey an idea, not building; they convey concepts and not the physical object.  When we use any technique of representation, we use the representation as a project. These images are not the end of an idea in itself but a flash photo of a line of research and only a step on the path of a much longer investigation.

Hernan Diaz Alonso states in his interview with Thom Mayne in Log 17 discussing their respective practices that, “I still believe in the complete autonomy of the representation as a vehicle to think architecture.” While Thom says “I always think that the drawings and the object making are parallel to the work and not necessarily connected to the work,… drawing is always autonomous,… drawings and models were themselves the work.”

The importance of continually building out image bank puts us on a quest to tap into and learn from other image makers. We use those image makers who sometimes make images that are too expansive for words, and use the word that they and others ascribe to them. Now more than ever that our modes of representation are coherent between each design profession we can quickly move the newest philosophies and ideas and modes of research into all fields and seek specialization and nurture further tributary investigations. As the image evolves, our world does too.


~ by jonathanhenry on February 1, 2010.

One Response to “Discussion on the IMAGE \\ Jonathan Henry”

  1. […] For more on the role of representation in architecture please refer to my previous post. […]

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