New Realities

With just a glance at this series of photographs, it is easy to be tricked into believing they might be renderings. Their strange colors and lack of contrast in combination are more easily attributed to a lack of a real referent than a strange representation of it; it is simpler to guess that their fanciful qualities are a result of their content rather than the settings on the camera that captured the scene. In a refusal to admit that what we see is one of many possible representations of the world, the images themselves seem more a product of the digital universe than our own.

The implications of this on architectural design and representation are vast, but most basically suggest that the gap between representation and reality might be breached not only by rendering softwares that use more precise local data and more complex physics equations, but also by photographs that become less adherent to our own expectations. Reality itself, as perceived through the lens of a camera, can become closer to representation. This opens conversations of architectural theory from the other side of the equation, also as architectural photography becomes crucial to the importance of buildings themselves. A well-photographed building, after all, is presented in select elements to the public both digitally and in print, and suffers from the same potential issues as these images. A photograph of a design project run through similar color processing might seem closer to initial renderings than the real project itself.

These ambiguities have no clear resolve, rather open a realm of play for architects as the technologies continue to change and develop. Creating representational fictions from real projects strengthens also the suggestion that design projects that seem unreal might in fact be adopted into reality. It opens possibilities for integrating architectural ideas into a world that is both ours and not, a liminal dreamlike landscape that allows imaginations to not be so tightly constrained to the typical rules and regulations of reality.

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