Camera Work: The Built Environment-Vernacular Architecture
“Architecture is frozen music.” ― Johann Wolfgang von Goethe.
I set that quote along side the concept of Vernacular Architecture because it ties in greatly with my own evolution in the arts. Last week, I left readers with the connection between music and my work, personal work. My commercial work is Architectural photography, and my preferences there lies in the more intimate architecture, expressed best in homes and similar dwellings. And much of that architecture is vernacular.
1:(of language) spoken as one’s mother tongue; not learned or imposed as a second language.
2:(of architecture) concerned with domestic and functional rather than monumental buildings.
Vernacular architecture can be designed or it can simply evolve as a function of building, driven by the needs of the times and climate. If it is designed, particularly by gifted architects, the best, (but not the ostentatious!) leave a touch of the monumental in certain details, in choice of materials, quality construction. I had the great, good fortune of having as a client, one of those gifted architects, no not just one, but several. They taught me to see architecture in a universal sense, to see it holistically. I found myself going out to photograph the streets of Portland, wandering around neighborhoods, photographing what caught my eye, which stood out without shouting but still said “pick me”. Portland has a lot of those kinds of buildings. It also has a lot of tawdry building, as might be expected, and some that defy classification! As time went on, I found this pursuit extending into my landscape work, seeing the most humble, utilitarian buildings scattered through the landscape, in small towns and villages speaking this language. In fact, it’s possible to see common themes tying the collections together; vernacular architecture in a boreal ecosystem look quite different than those of the desert. So I started including these “shacks” as they are commonly dismissed, in my studies of architectural form.
Architecture is Euclidean in form, standard three dimensions, height, width, length. The landscape is closer to fractal , having dimensions in between. The contrast is striking, so much so that plants are deliberately introduced into the layout to “break up” the imposition of Euclidean forms, repeated over and over. Seeing that together as an undivided whole is my goal when looking at landscape populated with buildings. Landscape populated with buildings is very different than cityscapes broken up with trees!
Yesterday, I decided to add a gallery to my collections on the website devoted to this subject, vernacular architecture. In doing so, it occurred to me that it would be a fine subject for my blog. It also opens the opportunity to write about my experiences and adventures in architecture.
I have a separate gallery of the work of the architect Pietro Belluschi, whose churches I photographed some years ago in connection with an exhibition of these churches in Portland. There are but three photos so far in that gallery. The vast majority of my photography from that time has yet to be scanned, which accounts for the small inclusion. You can see that he in particular, finds that connection between monumental and vernacular as a true master.
Photo ©2015 Lawrence Hudetz