Sunday, 26 April 2015

Urban Geometry: Perspectives and Planes



Last summer, I put together a series of Polaroid photos which focused on the geometry of Berlin's (post-)modern architecture. Throughout this winter, I undertook a similar project with the Fujifilm X30 camera, again capturing 20th and 21st century architecture in Berlin, the result of which I recently uploaded in a new set entitled Urban Geometry: Perspectives and Planes.


Although they have a common theme, the two sets are still very much different. These differences are defined by the medium (analog instant vs. digital), by the format (square vs. mostly 16:9 ratio) and most importantly, by the respective camera's lens and the approach that it allows. Using the Polaroid SX-70, I worked with the camera's fixed lense to focus on excerpts of buildings. The X30's zoom range, however, allowed me to capture buildings in their entirety, or even sets of buildings as depicted in the photo above. It also allowed me to zoom in on particular details if required. This, coupled with the chosen 16:9 ratio,  led the focus away from  the representation of the geometrical shapes of things. Instead, what came to the foreground were the lines, be they frames, pillars, beams or decorative patterns, horizontal or perpendicular or anything in between. 


Now I've said this elsewhere, but Berlin's architecture is basically an angular,
rectangular one, and you are hard pressed to find other shapes and forms - but they do exist. There are some great Bauhaus buildings around which make much use of curves (such as the Shell House), and even in the past years, some architects have managed to slip unusual designs by the stern gaze of  Berlin's conservative building authorities who so love their rectangular designs and orderly structures. The federal government buildings near the central train station consist of a weird amalgam of geometrical shapes of all sorts. And close by, in the model "Hansaviertel" neighbourhood, whose buildings date back to the 1950s, renowned architects such as Oscar Niemeyer forfitted traditional shapes and arrangements for more daring ones. In other words, the buildings I photographed for this project oftentimes go beyond the rectangular and angular.  


The buildings I concentrated on mostly date from the last 70 years. This includes public and office buildings as well as private housings and a couple of industrial buildings (one of which dates back to the late 19th century). The pictures feature buildings by architects such as Mies van der Rohe, Renzo Piano, Oscar Niemeyer, Walter Gropius, Hans Kollhoff and Hans Scharoun.


All photos are in black and white, and as mentioned above, have been taken with the Fujifilm X30 camera.

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