Building as Camera Obscura

AIA Minnesota Announces 2006 Honor, Divine Detail Awards

Other winners
Other 2006 architecture award winners – Star Tribune December 8, 2006

“Architects Cermak Rhoades designed a life-size camera obscura as a temporary structure for the University of Minnesota Landscape Arboretum. Its cedar exterior gives way to an all-white interior, where the gardens can be seen in a new way.”

What better way to visually re-experience (a chance to perceive) a landscape than a room size camera obscura… A place to pause and ponder. Useful or Useless? It’s up to you to make it what you need. However, it does provide for an interesting distinction between looking and seeing…

An 1817 encyclopedia page from the Wilgus Collection

All the rules are there for giving an architectural form…

I think the place deserves better photographs than what I could find…. more about the architects by the architects here…. AIA Minnesota here….. other recognition for Minnesota work here….


NOVEMBER 14, 2006 – JANUARY 31, 2007

From November 14, 2006 – January 31, 2007, Storefront for Art and Architecture will host the exhibition Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196x – 197x, curated by Beatriz Colomina, Craig Buckley, Anthony Fontenot, Urtzi Grau, Lisa Hsieh, Alicia Imperiale, Lydia Kallipoliti, Olympia Kazi, Daniel Lopez-Perez, and Irene Sunwoo at Princeton University.

In recent years, there has been resurgence of international interest in the architecture of the 1960s and 1970s. Yet the role of the many experimental publications that were the engine of that intensely creative period has been largely neglected. The exhibition Clip/Stamp/Fold: The Radical Architecture of Little Magazines 196x – 197x tracks the critical function of the little magazine in architecture during these years, when a remarkable outburst of publications disseminated and catalyzed a range of experimental practices. Coined in the early twentieth century to designate progressive literary journals, the term “little magazine” was re-mobilized during the 1960s to grapple with the contemporary proliferation of independent architectural periodicals that appeared in response to the political, social, and artistic changes of the period. Clip/Stamp/Fold investigates how an internationally diverse group of architectural little magazines informed the development of postwar architectural culture.

Questions, about the choice of a medium put to use in dissemination of ideas with the goal of effecting influence:

Is it possible to trace the influence of “paper architecture” upon built works? Possibly, but I would guess a more likely and lasting influence is upon the architectural culture machine. Buildings, after all, are generally pretty risk adverse adventures – peoples lives and livelihoods are at stake. It’s capital intensive! Despite this buildings make “statements” all the time – about what is valued.

More about the show here and eventually a time-line and listing of little magazines. Storefront for Art and Architecture link here

Additionally, this really sets up the question of what are the “little magazines” of today? Of websites / blogs – can this modern media form create an environment of influence lasting beyond the moment of the flickering computer screen? Or does it take something like the “book” to lend weight and permanence to the recording of ideas? Or, does it take built work to ultimately embody the idea? Perhaps it’s all of the above to maximum effect.

Coincidentally, certain parallels can be found in photography. This is a series of interesting posts about the photo book as an influential cultural object (and a record) – for the collection of photographs – by a photographer (Alec Soth). And this is another take on it here on the site: “Conscientious – a weblog about fine-art photography (and more) “

What is the function of a window….(Raum)

Le Corbusier, “Cabanon,” Cap-Martin, 1952.
Credit: Bibliothèque de la Ville, La Chaux-de-Fonds/Fonds Le Corbusier

A photograph – overlooking the Eileen Gray House Cap-Martin…. The picture of the horizon – (can’t tell if this is from inside or outside) the Sea and the Sky – with encroaching trees. Simply a picture of the horizon framed by a wall with an opening onto the outside -supposed from the protection of the inside…

Below from:
Battle Lines E. 1027
Beatriz Colomina

Significantly, Le Corbusier describes drawing as the occupation of a “stranger’s house.” In his last book, Creation is a Patient Search, he writes: “By working with our hands, by drawing, we enter the house of a stranger, we are enriched by the experience, we learn.” [30] Drawing, as has often been noted, plays a crucial part in Le Corbusier’s process of appropriation of the exterior world. He repeatedly opposes his technique of drawing to photography: When one travels and works with visual things – architecture, painting or sculpture – one uses one’s eyes and draws, so as to fix deep down in one’s experience what is seen. Once the impression has been recorded by the pencil, it stays for good – entered, registered, inscribed. The camera is a tool for idlers, who use a machine to do their seeing for them.[31]

From the outset I am most interested in the conceptual idea of “space” as interpreted by the camera gaze…

What the word for space, Raum, Rum, designates is said by its ancient meaning. Raum means a place cleared or freed for settlement and lodging. A space is something that has been made room for, something that is cleared and free, namely within a boundary, Greek peras.

A boundary is not that at which something stops but, as the Greeks recognized, the boundary is that from which something begins its presencing. That is why the concept is that of horismos, that is, the horizon, the boundary. Space is in essence that for which room has been made, that which is let into its bounds. (Building Dwelling Thinking – M.H.)