photography – mammoth the herculez gomez of architecture blogs Fri, 14 Oct 2016 19:16:27 +0000 en-US hourly 1 ivanpah Thu, 15 Nov 2012 23:00:10 +0000
[At Wired, a gallery of photographs of the Ivanpah Solar Electric Generating System, by Jamey Stillings. At completion, the Ivanpah facility is expected to be the largest operational solar power facility in the world.]

petrochemical america Tue, 18 Sep 2012 11:00:00 +0000

[From the top: diagram by SCAPE of off-shore oil facilities in the Gulf; Richard Misrach’s “Roadside Vegetation and Orion Refining Corporation, Good Hope, Louisiana, 1998” ; diagram by SCAPE of the various chemical products manufactured and refined in “Cancer Alley”. All from Petrochemical America, and visible at a higher resolution in this gallery at the New Yorker.]

If you’re in New York in the next week or so, you might want to catch one of the several events related to the launch of photographer Richard Misrach and landscape architect Kate Orff’s new book, Petrochemical America, which “depicts and unpacks the complex cultural, physical, and economic ecologies along 150 miles of the Mississippi River from Baton Rouge to New Orleans, an area of intense chemical production that first garnered public attention as “Cancer Alley” when unusual occurrences of cancer were discovered in the region”.

The several events include a lecture and book signing at MoMA this Thursday (6:30 pm — RSVPs are apparently required and available through Aperture), an opening reception at Aperture Gallery this Friday evening (from 6 to 8), and a panel next Tuesday (25th), also at Aperture Gallery. The work from Petrochemical America will be exhibited at Aperture until October 6, so even if you miss these events, you can still catch the exhibition.

And of course — Kate will also be a member of the very exciting line-up we have scheduled for DredgeFest NYC next Friday (the 28th), though the topics of conversation will be a bit closer to New York itself.

venue interview with edward burtynsky Wed, 20 Jun 2012 11:00:13 +0000
[Edward Burtynsky’s “Drylands Farming #7” — farms in Monegros County, Aragon, Spain.]

Geoff Manaugh and Nicola Twilley recently posted an interview with infrastructural landscape photographer extraordinaire Edward Burtynsky, as a component of their latest project, the continentally-roaming Venue (self-described as a “portable media rig, interview studio, multi-format event platform, and forward-operating landscape research base”). In it, Burtynsky aptly describes his work as “looking for the disconnected landscapes that provide us with the materials we need to live, build, and do everything we do”, which suggests that his photography could be understood as an attempt to achieve the re-wiring of our understanding of the physical phenomenon of urbanization from a well-bounded object characterized primarily by some threshold of density towards an operative (lively, pulsating) material network whose dendritic tentacles reach deep into remote forests, sink into and carve out mountains, and even stretch across oceans. Which (beyond the immediate aesthetic impact of Burtynsky’s photographs, which can be awe-inspiring in large format) would explain why I am so fond of it.

[You can learn more about Venue here.]

athabascan aereality Fri, 15 Jun 2012 00:00:10 +0000

Business Insider‘s Robert Johnson has been touring various projects, sites, and landscapes in and around Canada’s Athabascan Oil Sands; the photographs he’s bringing back and articles he’s curating are a stunning mixture of the industrial sublime, raw instrumentality (such as: the world’s largest dump truck, and its forty-thousand dollar tires), and a visual testament to the scale of contemporary humanity’s geological agency. The photograph above is from Johnson’s aerial tour of the oil sands, which he undertook after being refused access to the mines on the ground. A full set of photographs — well over two hundred — can be seen on flickr.

spanish bubble landscapes Tue, 14 Feb 2012 01:00:15 +0000
[Suburban abandonia on the outskirts of Madrid, via google maps.]

During the presentations at Visualizar last summer, one of the presenters (I think it was José Luis Muñoz Muñoz, but I haven’t re-watched his presentation, so I’m not totally sure) mentioned a photography project that sought to document the post-bubble abandonment of parts of the suburban fringe of Madrid. I’m not certain what project that was (clearly, I took very bad notes), but I’ve since run across two that document roughly that same landscape, one from the always-stimulating blog deconcrete and the other in Quaderns. Given my interest in tracing the landscapes of financialization (and, of course, the role of financialization in fueling rampant development), I thought it’d be worth linking to those two projects.

[Photographs from Julia Schulz-Dornberg’s “Modern ruins, a profitable topography; visit the gallery at Quaderns for additional images.]

The first, Julia Schulz-Dornberg’s “Modern ruins, a profitable topography”, is described as “a photographic inventory of abandoned speculative construction in Spain”. Schulz-Dornberg’s argument that these developments constitute a “profitscape”, or a constructed landscape whose primary intended characteristic was its capacity to transform land into a standardized commodity, reminds me of mammoth‘s own ruminations on the American suburban home as a machine for generating wealth — in both cases, the apparently aberrant physical characteristics of the designed object in question are made readily understandable by reading the object as a financial instrument first and a shelter/neighborhood second.

[Photographs from Daniel Fernández Pascual and Luis Galán García’s “A Road Trip through Madrid’s Bubble Challenge”.]

The second is “A Road Trip through Madrid’s Bubble Challenge”, from deconcrete‘s Daniel Fernández Pascual and Luis Galán García. It is concerned with the immediate environs of Madrid, where some forty-seven thousand apartments wait for buyers (or, were waiting in 2009) while “hundreds of kilometres of perfectly paved streets run between eerie blocks, waiting for… construction”. Intriguingly, they speculate that these abandoned bubble landscapes might, at least for some time, function as de facto wilderness parks — perhaps a bit like Sterling’s involuntary parks, but with collapsed credit systems in the place of razor wire and mines.

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willow fascine mattress Sat, 23 Jul 2011 11:00:04 +0000
[Before the use of articulated concrete mats was standardized, the Army Corps often relied on a variety of other methods of revetment construction.  The weaving and placement of willow fascine mattresses, as seen above, was one such earlier practice; the installation process is remarkably similar to and prefigures the process for concrete mats.  Images via the Public Library of Cincinnati and Hamilton County.]

suspension Thu, 26 May 2011 22:00:45 +0000
[In the summer of 1916, a pair of cyclones — one coming from the Gulf of Mexico and making landfall in Mississippi, the other coming from the Atlantic and landing in Charleston, South Carolina — poured torrential rains (“all previous 24-hour records for rainfall were exceeded”) across the southeast. Western North Carolina was hit especially hard. In this photograph from NOAA’s historic archives, men stand on a railroad track which was left suspended in mid-air after the fill material it rested on washed away.]

stabilization Fri, 25 Mar 2011 17:18:09 +0000
[The photography of Toshio Shibata has made its way around before, but, as but does it float reminds us, it is well worth second and third gazes.]

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winter hiatus Sat, 11 Dec 2010 06:01:27 +0000
[Photograph by William Notman & Son, photographers, of a building encased in ice after a fire, 65–83 Little St. James Street, Montréal, Québec, 1888.  From the collection of the Canadian Centre for Architecture in Montréal, via Sense of the City.]

We’re taking the remainder of the dimly-lit month of December to rest, eat, read, and think; we’ll be back sometime in the new year — most likely January, perhaps the beginning of February.  (I’m not saying we won’t post anything until then; I am saying that you shouldn’t expect it.)

out in the wind, above ground, out in the weather Tue, 23 Nov 2010 00:00:15 +0000

[Appropriate for the gradual approach of winter in the mid-Atlantic: photographs from Alexander Gronsky’s “The Edge”, a series of shots taken along the outer boundary of Moscow; via @ballardian.  Thinking about whitesward and glacier wrap again…]

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heygate abstracted Sun, 14 Nov 2010 11:00:05 +0000

Architect and photographer Simon Kennedy’s exhibition 635×508: Heygate Abstracted opens at the Bartlett School of Architecture this Monday.

Viewing Kennedy’s gorgeously depopulated photographs — which, in the words of critic Ben Campkin, focus on “the formal qualities of the estate’s exteriors and public spaces, selecting architectural moments, abstracting views and elevations, in a process that disassociates these buildings from their contentious histories, and any sense of domestic life” — I’m oddly reminded of a recent slideshow at the New York Times, “Living with Mies”, which examines the relationship between residents and architecture in a similarly famous American housing project, Lafayette Park:

We wanted to hear how residents — especially people with long-term, intimate knowledge of living with Mies — think about this unique modernist environment and how they confront and adapt it to meet their needs. During our research, we were struck by the casual attitude that many residents have toward the architecture. Then again, Detroit has an abundance of beautiful housing options: one can live in a huge Victorian mansion, a beautiful arts and crafts house or a cavernous loft-conversion space in a former factory. Living in a townhouse built by a renowned architect isn’t as noteworthy as one might think. At the same time, such nonchalance is a mark of success: the homes are great because they work, not because they come affixed with a famous name.

To be sure, there are people who live in Lafayette Park who are architecture enthusiasts, keenly aware of Mies van der Rohe’s place in history, who were drawn here specifically because he designed these buildings. But they are a minority. Many more residents were attracted to the lush landscape, the sense of community, the gigantic windows and the convenience of living downtown.

Photographs by Corine Vermeulen, from “Living with Mies”.

Remembering this led me to wonder if anyone had taken a similar set of photographs at the Heygate Estate, which, unlike Lafayette Park, is slated for demolition.  And, it turns out, photographer Tim Boddy had exactly this idea.  His photographs of the interior of one apartment in the Heygate — apparently, approximately 40 of 1,500 units are still occupied — present at least as fascinating a contrast with Kennedy’s ghostly exteriors as the furnished interiors of the units at Lafayette do with the crisp lines of Mies’ architecture.

Photographs from Tim Boddy’s “Last Days of the Heygate Estate”.

[As mentioned above, 635×508: Heygate Abstracted will be exhibited at the Bartlett School of Architecture from this Monday, November 15th, through November 27th.  Tim Boddy’s photography was recently exhibited in a London South Bank University degree show.]

golden gate estates Fri, 08 Oct 2010 20:23:22 +0000
[An abandoned portion of the “Golden Gate Estates” — a massive land scam promoted by a Florida developer in the 1960’s — whose miles of canals and roads would have been the infrastructure for the largest subdivision in the United States if the land hadn’t been utterly unsuitable to development. The problem, of course, is that the majority of the development’s 57,000 acres are part of a hydric forest, known as the Big Cypress Basin, and are frequently submerged by floods. (The development was subsequently bought by the government and became a portion of Picayune Strand State Forest.)

Despite their vast scale, the Golden Gate Estates are just one small chapter in the exceptionally strange (and quintessentially American) story of the development of the Everglades and southern Florida. A recent entry at the Boston Globe’s excellent Big Picture photoblog, “Human Landscapes in Southwest Florida”, which is the source for this image, explores the satellite evidence of decades of “boom and bust” residential “development in southwest Florida”.  That entry, filled with mazily-patterned suburban streets and crisply-ordered abandonia, coincides rather neatly with Geoff Manaugh’s excellent but brief piece at the New York Times Opinionator blog, on the similarly geometrical aerial photography of Christopher Gillen.]

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wearable homes Fri, 01 Oct 2010 16:58:55 +0000
[“Mono Lake”, 2008, from Mary Mattingly’s “Nomadographies”]

If you suppose that there is a spectrum of ways that we adapt ourselves to our environment, then “architecture” might be at one end, and “cyborg” (whether psychotropic or technological) could be at the other.  In between, there would be “clothing”.  And if you really want to confuse the three and scramble your simplistic understanding of that spectrum, you talk about wearable architecture.

So I couldn’t let Cyborg Month pass without mentioning Mary Mattingly’s absolutely fantastic “Wearable Homes”.  I got in touch with Tim Maly and we ended up co-writing a post for Quiet Babylon, “Wearable Ethics”:

…“Wearable Homes” is a project – part architecture, part photography, part design fiction, part clothing (fashion is not quite the right word here) – which sits at that confused junction between cyborgs and architecture.

Anyways, the post is (thanks to Tim) about a good bit more than just Wearable Homes, so read it.  And if you want more Wearable Homes, you might enjoy this old Pruned post, and Mattingly’s website.

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roosevelt pneumatic Thu, 26 Aug 2010 23:56:04 +0000
[Collection containers sit in the Roosevelt Island pneumatic system; photograph by Jonathan Snyder for]

Wired‘s Gadget Lab tours the Roosevelt Island pneumatic trash collection system:

In 1969, New York City granted the state a 99-year lease to develop the island, and the planning began. Ideas for the island included housing for United Nations workers, housing for doctors and nurses, one big park, a nuclear power plant, the New York Aquarium, an Egyptian museum, theaters, promenades, a new home for the bodies in Brooklyn and Queens cemeteries, casinos and a canal that would cut the island in half.

Eventually, planners settled on a utopian, car-free residential community for 20,000 New Yorkers. The narrow streets wouldn’t be fit for traffic, or for garbage collection, so a pneumatic trash system became part of the plans. In 1973, the island was dubbed Roosevelt, and construction of the system and the first residential towers was finished in 1975…

…A network of 20-inch tubes takes garbage from the island’s 16 residential towers, collecting from every floor, to a central collection point where it is compacted and trucked off the island.

Watch the entire slideshow at Wired.

More: Fast Trash was a recent exhibition about the same system, which argued “that service infrastructure plays a crucial role in cities and is even capable of inspiring the collective imagination”; watch a short film, “Nature Abhors a Vacuum”, at the Fast Trash website.

robert overweg Thu, 05 Aug 2010 18:00:38 +0000

Through Brian Finoki, I ran into the game-world “photography” of Robert Overweg (“Facade 2” pictured above), who hunts the worlds of video games not to run up a body count, but for architectural fragments and broken landscapes, moments where the rough edges of programmed rules find visual expression.  I recommend “Glitches” and “The end of the virtual world”, in particular.

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