The internet has been good to fans of “ruin porn,” providing them with a platform for sharing images and even coining the phrase, courtesy of a well-known Detroit blogger in 2009. However, the phenomenon isn’t actually as new as most people believe. In this article, originally published on 6sqft as “Before There was ‘Ruin Porn’ There was ‘Ruin Value’” Diane Pham expands on the idea of the connection between ruins and architectural value (recently discussed on ArchDaily in an article by Shayari de Silva), delving into the concept’s surprising history.
In the hierarchy of “things the internet likes”, we’d argue that ruin porn sits wedged somewhere between Buzzfeed quizzes and cats. Images of decaying architecture conjure up unsettling feelings of tragedy and loss, but somehow manage to grip us with its intangible beauty. Whatever the cause for this may be, the thrill and enjoyment we get from looking ruin porn is palpable.
The term ‘ruin porn’ is said to have been coined by blogger James Griffioen during a 2009 interview with Vice magazine in which he criticized photographers who scouted down-trodden Detroit for provocative photos. While ruin porn is the trend at hand, decades before its arrival there was something called ‘ruin value’.
Architecture photographer Danica O. Kus has shared with us images of Frank Gehry‘s recently completed Fondation Louis Vuitton. Labeled as a “late-career triumph” by Los Angeles Times critic Christopher Hawthorne, the sailed glass structure teeters on the edge of a Parisian water garden in Jardin d’Acclimatation. For a closer look at the building’s much-discussed structure, check out all of Kus’ images after the break.
What does it take for a 22-year-old art school drop-out to start a lifelong professional relationship with “the greatest American architect of all time”? Originally published by Curbed as “How a 22-Year-Old Became Wright’s Trusted Photographer,” this article reveals that for Pedro E. Guerrero, it took some guts and a lot of luck – but once they were working together this unlikely pairing was a perfect match.
When Frank Lloyd Wright hired Pedro E. Guerrero to photograph Taliesin West in 1939, neither knew it would lead to one of the most important relationships in architectural history. Wright was 72 and had already been on the cover of Time for Fallingwater. Guerrero was a 22-year-old art school drop-out. Their first meeting was prompted by Guerrero’s father, a sign painter who vaguely knew Wright from the neighborhood and hoped the architect would offer his son a job. Any job.
Young Guerrero had the chutzpah to introduce himself to the famous architect as a “photographer.” In truth, he hadn’t earned a nickel. “I had the world’s worst portfolio, including a shot of a dead pelican,” Guerrero said later. “But I also had nudes taken on the beach in Malibu. This seemed to capture Wright’s interest.”
Hufton + Crow have been named “Architectural Photographer of the Year 2014” by Arcaid Images. The news was announced in Singapore at the World Architecture Festival after the duo’s interior image of Zaha Hadid’s Heydar Aliyev Centre staircase received the highest score from the judges. Hufton + Crow also received runner-up in the award’s exterior category with another image from the Heydar Aliyev Centre. You can check it out, after the break.
Currently on exhibition at Barbican Art Gallery in London is Constructing Worlds, an exploration of architectural photography from the 1930s to now. The exhibition brings together over 250 rarely seen works by 18 leading photographers who have demonstrated the medium’s ability to look beyond simple documentation of the built world and reveal wider truths about society. Learn more about the exhibition after the break.
German photographer Yannick Wegner has shared with us his latest time-lapse exploration through the Museo Soumaya. Designed by FR-EE / Fernando Romero Enterprise, the 150-foot structure has become iconic in Mexico City’s Polanco district due to its sculptural physique and scale-like skin of 16,000 mirrored steel hexagonal tiles.
Stills of the museum, after the break…
Brooklyn based architectural photographer James Ewing has placed first in the American Photographic Artists’ APA Awards for architecture. The image, as Ewing describes, “was created to describe the verdant landscape that surrounds the Matrimandir and the community of Auroville.”
“The land was in an advanced state of desertification when the Auroville project was started in the 1960s. Heavy erosion had removed most of the topsoil and left a barren scorched earth. Through many years of careful engineering and land management Auroville has created a lush, wooded, garden city. I sought out an elevated vantage point that allowed me to present the building in context with its landscape. The building without the landscape would only be half of the story. The cyclists in the foreground show scale and provide a contrast between the familiar low-fi technology of the bicycles and the fantastic sci-fi form of the Matrimandir itself.”
Europe‘s ancient ruins are numerous: Pompeii, the Parthenon, the Colosseum – but what about new ruins? Skeletons of incomplete buildings now litter the skylines of European cities. A form of memento mori, these abandoned constructions prove that no structure is permanent or impervious to the changing desires of a society in flux. English photographer Sam Laughlin documents the creation of these ‘ruins’ in his series Frameworks, a contemporary dissection of the aging built environment.
Enter the abandoned world in Frameworks with more photos and info after the break.
To coincide with the opening of the Royal Institute of British Architects (RIBA)’s new Architecture Gallery at their headquarters in London’s Portland Place, the first major retrospective of Edwin Smith will open next month. Smith, one of Britain’s foremost 20th century photographers, was considered a master of capturing the essence of the places, landscapes and buildings he documented over an extensive career. The exhibition, entitled Ordinary Beauty, will display over a hundred carefully curated black and white images from a collection of over 60,000 negatives and 20,000 prints donated by Olive Cook, Smith’s widow and collaborator, to the RIBA Library.
Lately, architects are sharing an increasing captivation with ruins. As our technologies for envisioning the buildings of the future become ever-more accurate – enabling us not only to walk through, hover over, and inhabit walls, but also to calculate exact quantities of materials, structural load capacities and costs – our fascination for ruin, a process that is governed by laws of nature and time in a manner that is spatially unpredictable and rarely uniform, has also seen a rise in popularity.
Blogs such as Ruin Porn, Abandoned America and Architecture of Doom draw from a recent sub-genre of photography, identified as ‘ruins photography’ or ‘ruin porn’. While buildings can go into decay for many reasons, these images tend to focus on urban decay, especially in cities such as Detroit, Chicago and Berlin, which saw a surge of industrialization in the last century that has since dwindled.
In honor of World Photo Day (August 19th) ArchDaily wanted to thank the photographers who bring to life the projects that we publish every day. So we asked 15 architects to weigh in on the work of some of our most-appreciated architecture photographers. Here, Andrew Freear of Rural Studio writes on behalf of Tim Hursley.
In 1994, a routine construction technique that has been practiced in Hong Kong for over 100 years caught the attention of photographer Peter Steinhauer - and led him to put almost a decade of work into capturing this unique urban phenomenon. The bamboo scaffolding and fabric wrappings he photographs serve the simple purpose of catching construction debris, but at a glance they look more like works by Christo and Jeanne Claude, the artists that have made their name wrapping buildings like the Reichstag in Berlin.
The resulting photos showcase the colossal towers of Hong Kong wrapped in brightly-colored fabric; their usually varied facades are made monolithic, like a plastic massing model rendered full-size. Steinhauer named his photo series “Cocoons” due to the effect they create over time: the buildings metamorphose under cover and emerge transformed.
Read on for more photos of these urban cocoons
ArchDaily has partnered with The Architectural Review to bring you short thematic introductions to the magazine’s monthly editions. Up now: AR’s April 2014 issue, which examines the complexities of architecture photography. Editor Catherine Slessor asks “what happens when controlled views of buildings are redefined by and adapted to new technologies?”
Roland Barthes once observed that there is no such thing as a photograph. ‘Whatever it grants to vision and whatever its manner, a photograph is always invisible, it is not it that we see’, he wrote in Camera Lucida. What we do see is the scrutinising gaze of the photographer, which can beguile or unsettle, but should always evoke some kind of response.
As a scientific and ‘truthful’ medium, photography has served architecture well, especially in the Modernist era when the evolving medium synthesised perfectly with a new approach to design. Yet the relationship between architecture and photography is an inherently compromised one. Unlike art practice, architectural photography lends itself less to searching critical enquiry, being essentially an unspoken pact between architect, photographer and publisher to render buildings in a way that discreetly flatters architectural ambition and sells copies of books or magazines.
In this interview, originally published by Paperhouses as “Decisive Moment: Conversation With Fernando Guerra“, the Portuguese photographer details his career in architectural photography, and how he approaches the art of photographing buildings. As an advocate of free sharing and online publicity, and one of a new breed of photographers who – shock horror – likes to include people in his shots of buildings, Guerra is well placed to explain how the world of architectural photography has changed over the past decade.
I do not want to call it an interview—it was a fabulous discussion that Fernando Guerra led as a loose narrative with notes on work that he practices with hedonism and filled with life. They are all stories dedicated to the great beauty of doing what one loves and letting it grow.
Read on after the break for the interview
Last June, we published our first list of must-see Instagram feeds to follow, but we knew it was only the tip of the iceberg. Once again we’ve scoured the web (and followed your excellent suggestions) to track down the 25 Instagrammers who will be sure to inspire – including dare-devil adventurer raskalov, up-and-coming architecture photographer nicanorgarcia, and our very own editor-in-chief.
See the 25 awesome architecture instagrammers, after the break…