Analysis of the Relationship Between Images and Text in Architecture

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Analysis the relationship between images and text in architecture review--Neue Staatsgalerie

The beginning of photography use in architectural subject can be traced back to 1830s (Ackerman.JS, 2001). As photography being use in architectural journal, it truly created a new way to interpret architecture. Photography can provide audience the scene of the real building, which has more common touch than the technical drawings. Therefore, it is a powerful issue that affects how people perceive a building. In addition, There are various kinds of photos can be found in architecture publishing, such as artistic work, lifestyle shooting, architect’s own experiment on representation of the building and construction process of structure. It can be indicated that they are all about explaining how building works and trying to advertise them to public in an attractive artistic way. Photography is a fundamental element in deciding our understanding of the architectural design. According to the significant of architectural photo, some critical conversations are set up to discuss that the relationship between the image and the reality of the building which based on the development of economy and various demand from people.

The purpose of this essay is to critical analysis the relationship between text and images through a certain article about James Stirling's Neue Staatsgalerie in Stuttgart which published on Architecture Review magazine in 1984. Then find out useful suggestion about how to improve them.

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Fig. 1. p18-19 Alan colquhoun, democratic monument.1984,architecture review.

The whole article contains 10 pages and the essay will analyse them according to the order of the pages. The first and second page of the article produced the main title and abstract with a large scale of picture which shows the main entrance hall of the gallery. Because of the scale of the image, it can be indicated that it is one of the most important image of the article. This large scale picture shown on the first page is demonstrating the spatiality of the entrance hall. It may be taken from a sunny day because they are some admirable shadows created by the structure shown on the photo. The space contains curve and grid pattern shadow exist on the wall and green rubber flooring through the green steel framed window. All of these give a scene of museum which are places of lively and popular modern entertainment.

Actually, there are two people in the picture, one is sitting on the chair and seems like enjoy her time relaxing with sunlight in the gallery hall. The photographer using this woman created a warm and comfort atmosphere of the museum and give a encouragement for people to join this pleasant space. The other one is standing in front of the entrance which can be a reference object to know the scale of the space. Although this image provided enormous information about the space, it is still a photo that shoot on purpose. A photography like this needs to capture the beautiful shadow on specific time and make the building clean and tidy to present. It is not casual and daily view of the hall. It is an example of showing that photography are freezing moment and farming a perspective which offers an uncommon presentation of common things (Mattens, F,2011). Therefore, photograph cannot show the complete reality of the building, it is a temporary and pre-prepared media to present the actual building.

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Fig. 2. p20-21 Alan colquhoun, democratic monument.1984,architecture review.

Text in the second and third pages are about the design culture background and the design introduction. However, there is no relationship between the first whole page picture and the context. There is no words explaining the entrance hall as a important part of the design. The reason may be related to that in nowadays, tourism and buyers occupied the dominant force in the demand for architectural photographs(Ackerman,JS,2001). When the architecture project begins from the design process, one of the function of it is to appeal people to get into it. Therefore, the photograph need to be attractive, regardless of shortage of the building, showing the most interesting space of the whole project. So, the first page image may be put because of photographer wants catch the readers' eye. Henk snoek, one of the best photographer in Britain, thinks that the architectural photograph shall be introduced to satisfy the particular client. Thus, client request may be another reason for having a picture which is not closely related to the text.

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Fig. 3. p26-27 Alan colquhoun, democratic monument.1984,architecture review.

The third and fourth page have a section drawing, a site plan with context, an reference picture of the original Staatsgalerie and a 'facade' of the Neue Staatsgalerie, they are all related to the text in the journal which introduced the foyer, the movement of people, related image of the design, and the special facade of the gallery. Two technical drawings are clearly showing the information which helps readers understand the building's intention. Because of the main reader of architecture review maybe architect or people in the area related to architecture, they need to use specific drawings to learn about the detail. On the sixth page, three isometric drawings show the main structure of the central drum. These images have benefits which photograph do not contain. For example, firstly, photograph cannot include the whole of the large scale structure which section and isometric drawing can present. Secondly, the perspective that photograph may have distortion due to the lens which cannot show the actual facade of the building. Thirdly, photograph just can show picture depending on the light and shade, it cannot show the circulation and detail texture of the building(Ackerman,JS,2001). In addition, architectural drawing can offer the specific design sources and precedents which are benefit to the professional users. (Higgott,A &Wray, T)Therefore, to understating the detail and function of building, architectural drawings are certainly needed not only because that photograph has limitations in presenting a building in reality but also are reasonable to the specific readers.

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Fig. 4. p28-29 Alan colquhoun, democratic monument.1984,architecture review.

The fifth page's text concentrates on two special parts of the building, it illustrates the special traditional enfilade galleries and ambiguous rotunda to the readers. On the seventh page, a detailed drawing of the window in drum explains how enfilade gallery was constructed. Next to it, there is a photo taken from the entrance to the drum. The photo contains a couple sitting in the drum of a sunny day which give a real feeling to imagine the artistic atmosphere of the space. In Next page, it has a big picture that shows a lady looks from inside of the gallery to the outside view in the centre drum. Some window details are shown beside it. These two pictures both show the surrounding space of the drum and give a attractive view to the audience. However, only some of qualities of the building can be presented in the photograph. Without the detail drawing and cross section image exist surround them, they can even not be known the location of it. The photo can only present its subject in the best light position which always be sunbathing, the surrounding are always neat and clean(Higgott,A &Wray, T). Moreover, the day-to-day inhabitation cannot communicate in photograph.

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Fig. 5. p30-31 Alan colquhoun, democratic monument.1984,architecture review.

On the last two pages, two specific plans are supposed to help people comprehend the different space and function of the building and also try to show the circulation of the architecture. The last pages contain a huge scale photo showing a stonewall which have some hole and some sandstones lying on the ground. In this photo explanation, author points out the meaning of it is that the architect of the building -James Stirling wants to show the theory of "only real stones are on the ground--all the rest are veneers of sandstone and travertine". The reason of this picture is that the choice of the entire presenting in the architectural journal are made by architect. The photo are mostly taken for the architect, approved by architect and show the architect's theory(Picton,T,1979). Therefore, photograph itself is a creative way of presenting and advertising the design project to the public, which clients want to control the truth and architects want select the photograph that are attractive and powerful for the artistic feeling they want to achieve.

Through the analysis to the article, it is obvious that both photo and architectural drawing are needed to present a real architecture. Photos are focus on how to create a actual atmosphere of the interesting spaces and drawings are supposed to provide more technical uses. Nevertheless, it can be argued that photograph is not real but pretended to be real. However, people's way of seeing a architecture are entirely influenced by the way interior spaces are presented in the journals. Sometimes, in the case of designers, students and critics get to know buildings through photographs, the aesthetic photograph can sometimes decid the certain impact about what the building should like in people's mind (Mattens, F,2011). Therefore, photograph is significant in modern media to present architecture. It has a huge amounts of power to influence people. Thus, in the future, it is recommend that photographer can balance the reality and artistic of the photo and ask themselves to take the responsibility of the architectural work.

  1. Alan Colquhoun "democratic monument'

1.Ackerman James S, On the Origins of Architectural Photography(study centre mellon lectures,2001),1-2,9-10.

2.Mattens Filip, The Aesthetics of Space: Modern Architecture and Photography, The journal of aesthetics and art criticism (The American Society for Aesthetics,2011)

3.Picton Tom, "The Craven Image."The Architectural Journal(25,July,1979):176-242

4.Andrew Higgott and Timothy Wray, Introduction: Architectural and photographic Constructs,

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