A Landscape of Colourful Giants
Berlin, my hometown, is a city full of architecture. You can go wherever you want and I promise you that you will find something interesting. Whether you go to the center, where you can see architecture from the 19th to the 21th century, or you go to the suburbs where gigantic housing estates from the 60’s and 70’s rise above the urban landscape.
In a city like Berlin it’s not a wonder that there is so much architectural photography. I started with the “classical” fine-art photographic approach but soon got bored. I then started to be more interested in the architecture itself, rather than in photographing it just with a look at the optimal quality. I am a fan of strong colors and graphic design, as such I began my Instagram project. A page of reworked buildings, a new look. The manipulation of the images vary, however I pay great attention to lines or structures which seem to characterizing the building in some way.
What dictates your colour palette for each image?
The decision of the colour palette is the beginning of every image I create. Sometimes, if the building itself has some colours, I choose colours, which mirror these. That means, that they are either complementary to them or make a gradient. If the building has no colours, it depends on the areas I want to depict. If I leave more white areas, I am able to use just colours of a gradient (like red – orange – yellow) because the colours themselves make a big contrast to the white. If I do not let white areas, I mostly use complementary colours (like pink- blue – yellow). In every image I use at least one tone which makes a good contrast to the sky- blue. If I order the colours somehow or use them randomized depends often on the structure of the building.
To what extent does the blue background act as a unifying landscape between all images and structures?
First the blue background act as characterizing property of all the all of my pictures (just some very rare full frame patterns don not have it). This colour is very neutral but gives the image more contrast than a white background, especially when the building itself has a lot of white areas. It is maybe comparable to the gold background paintings from the middle ages often have. It takes the structure out of a real scene and creates a more surreal look.
How instrumental has instagram been for the project. Do you think you would have embarked on such a photographic research if the social media platform did not exist?
I cannot say if I had started to create images like this if Instagram did not exist. The community in this network has a very open understanding about art and especially photography. Even the former reduction to the square layout encourages the users to think more about the content of the picture. I would say that the very creative users of Instagram gave me a lot of inspiration to my work. Instagram is also more artistic than other photography networks where you can also find very good fine art photos, but it is often very difficult for new ideas to prevail them against the “famous” objects. I also think that my style of picturing would not go down well in Facebook for example. Because the density of creative people there is much smaller and it is not very likely to come in contact with people who are interested in more special faces of photography like I am doing. The positive feedback I got since the beginning was also a reason to start a bigger project and not make just one or two of those images and start something different after that. So all in all the creative community like Instagram was important for starting and continuing this project.
You mainly show buildings in isolation, why so?
Berlin has a mess of architectural styles. To focus the whole attention of the viewer just on the building I want to picture, I make sure that there is only the one building in the image. If I would photograph a whole street or at least some more buildings side by side, it would not look as clean it looks when I just choose one. I want to reduce the content of my image to the architecture and my design itself.
What is your work process and what determines the specific views you choose?
When I photograph a building I look at the geometry I can use as center lines or the rule of thirds for example. I want to make sure that the structure of the building is clearly visible. I also make sure that there are no obstacles which hinder the view on the building. If I cannot prevent that, I retouch that in post-production. I have to apply a perspective correction, because most pictures are taken with a wide- angel lens to strengthen the structure of a building so it seems not as a flat plane. The perspective correction allows the image to look more stoic but it also takes nothing from the dynamic of the building. Then I cut the building out of the photo, insert the blue background and make the square frame. After that I choose the colour palette and make different copies of the picture, I dye in each of the chosen colours. Finally I combine them with layer masking. I orientate on given structures of the buildings like the design of the facade or balconies.
How would the photography of a detail or accumulation of details defy the building as structure and start to look at form without scale?
When photographing a detail you take something out of a real scene and put it in isolation. So you just now what you see in the photo but never the whole thing. For example sometimes when I want to photograph buildings I look at photos of details like windows or entries before seeing it in real. It could happen that somebody got disappointed when seeing the whole thing then. So the photography of a detail deletes the situation around it the view focuses just on the simple geometry but has no scale to make a comparison. Only that determines the effect at the viewer and not for example a agitation or a comparison with another element of the picture. Overall i would say that the photography of details do not defy the building as structure but alter the effect to the viewer in a different way as a picture of the total object.
Paul was born on 19th February 1998 in Berlin and started this architectural project on Instagram during the summer of 2015. He will finish school this year and is eager to pursue this passion for architecture at University.