Can something as simple as a vanishing point become the beginning of a different way of seeing?
Whether through experimental new digital imagery or the master of modern architectural photography, trained in classical technique, volume and photo hold immense potential. They do so in an embrace from the world of two dimensions to the world of three, bridged by our perception.
Architectural forms explode into layered shards in the prints of “Extracts of Local Distance.” As in the early experiments in cubism by Duchamp, Picasso, et al, the point of view and vanishing points become composed atop one another. The results are complex and sculptural, as depth and perspective collapse in on one another into new three-dimensional patterns.
The results are stunning and suggestive of a lot more that might be done with three-dimensional volumes. There’s even now a 3D print, in the video below.
In the creators’ words:
Countless fragments of existing architectural photography are merged into multilayered shapes. The resulting collages introduce a third abstract point of view next to the original ones of architect and photographer.
Digital scans of analogue architectural photography form tiny pieces of a large resulting puzzle. The original pictures are being analysed and categorised according to their vanishing-points and shapes. Based on this analysis, slices are being extracted from the source image. These slices retain the information of their position corresponding to their original vanishing-point and thus form a large pool of pieces, ready to be applied to new perspectives and shapes.
Using the extracted image segments, it is now possible to form collages of originally different pictures with a new common perspective. In order to compose a collage, a perspective-grid is defined and a lining of matching image segments is being applied. The segments are not altered to match the frame but fitting ones are chosen from the sheer mass of possible pieces. By defining additional keywords which describe the content of the original photographs, the selection of segments used for the final composition can be influenced. Thus a contextual layer is added through the semantic linking with the source material.
The recompositions mix and match the views and perspectives of both the architect and the photographer with a third, newly chosen frame. The resulting fine-art prints are entirely unique each time.
The work isn’t new — thanks to everyone who sent it in, and to Michelle Higa for spotting it on Motionographer. But it’s one I might imagine revisiting for inspiration.
Visit the official site for more details on the process, and to drool over some of the prints.
The project is the creation of Frederic Gmeiner, Torsten Posselt & Benjamin Maus of the Universität der Künste Berlin (UdK).
In terms of thinking about volume, perspective, and three-dimensional space, I can’t say enough good things about the 2008 documentary, “Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman.”
If you don’t already know the name Julius Shulman, you know his images. His iconic views of modern architecture are stamped in all our brains. But filmmaker Eric Bricker manages to take the viewer inside Shulman’s imagination, to see how his gift for understanding perspective and rhythm transformed our view of the interior spaces of modernism, sometimes producing as much a work of art – or a greater one – than the buildings themselves. The film is unafraid of innovation in the way it conveys its ideas, sometimes producing motion graphics that are dizzying near to distraction, but in a way that is stimulating beyond the boundaries of the film. (If you don’t want to sit down and contemplate images for a few days after this movie, you may not have been paying attention.)
Given that the digital image is locked as the still camera is to a perspective, the film should be required viewing for anyone hoping to move beyond the two-dimensional plane.
And more than mere abstraction, Shulman’s vision is one rich with personality and character and a deep love of life, and his affection for the natural world. He likely has already changed how you feel about architecture, but the film could make you recall the gift that is this afternoon.
Shulman died last summer at age 99.
The documentary’s official site has extensive information beyond just the film.