Photographs As Site

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Photographs As Site

Sergio Max Legon-Talamoni



Who influences you graphically?

What, rather than who, influences me graphically, at least for this project is that of engaging with alternative or surrogate modus operandi, or manners of operating. Traditional architectural representation techniques still govern the way I show my work, albeit with a personal touch. So in the case of From Flatness: The Violence of the Image, I tried to assume the mentality of the photographer during the drawing/design process. As much as the photographer is completely consumed during the framing, lighting, positioning, etc. of the single shot, obviously at the disposal of the camera instrument, the opportunity to do the same using this methodology-as-machine provided for me a rewarding experience during the project.

How could the medium of the collage have helped in liberating the stillness of the photograph as part of the research/design process?

American architect John Hejduk’s critical dialectic for the inclusion of photography within the “space” of architecture – that is within the framework of movement, time, and perception – should be taken into account when addressing the limits of the two-dimensional medium. Allocated to its geometric dimensions and image resolution, we are often deceived by the content of the photograph and the lens of the camera, deferring to believe in the reality of its representation. We often fail to acknowledge the inaccuracies of its illustration. It’s almost oxymoronic how the photograph resigns itself to the viewer, leaving it to us to fill in the blanks. And that’s what this methodology is leveraging, using the implicit image data information. The flatness of the photographic medium necessitates our imagination to animate the represented space. By integrating the factor of time during the design process, it not only accounts for another dimension, which gets dissolved by the camera instrument, it also grounds the project contextually to ‘Site’, which is a monumental dividend for this way of working.

To what extent might the collage of a selection of images but assembled in diverse ways be used as a tool to develop a whole range of architectural narratives with which to create? 

Contrary to the idea of using a single image as a point of departure for the proposed methodology, the motivations for using a series of curated photographs together is a significantly more rich and complex narrative which increases exponentially by a factor of how many images and how much data you extract. The impetus for reasserting the role of the photograph within architecture is central to the narrative. However, there many outcomes that can evolve out of The Violence of the Image. There are no limits really, but I believe that the ability to apply a governing rigor or rule set to this process separates that of an art and a science. The marriage of the two is what architecture is. The competence to navigate between the two is what cultivates an architect in the 21st century.

In a world where we primarily and firstly look through the lens of the camera how powerful could this new methodology be?

One of the most important and powerful aspects of this process is that it is an iterative & generative framework from which the architecture can emerge. It’s a machine. The architecture derived is inherently fraternal to its captured commonwealth, almost as directly as the product from the camera-to-photograph. However, the link between the inaccuracies of photo representation and the tangibility of the derived architectural narrative is that of Time and Perception. Time has the potential to reveal so much that is lost in the translation between the two-dimensional and the three dimensional. The perception of the photographic image as object coincides with the perceived reality (or projected) of its past, and the two mutually inform each other. The reality of the image cannot be separated from the time or perception of it. This is the Violence of the Image.

How could we as architects establish an image factory to which we respond and contribute as means to establish a new architectural archive and method of production? 

I believe that architects already do a phenomenal job of establishing visual archives from which they respond to strongly or to serve as precedent for perhaps their one work moving forward. However what’s unique about this methodology is how much ‘context’ plays a role in the formal speculation. ‘Photographs-as-site’ become the absolute points of departure. Site specificity is thereby integrated into the proposed design approach, empirically, rigorously deploying the pictorial aesthetic of the community as a reliable source of generating form.

(1) Delineation Study(2) Archaeology Methodology(3) Systematic Destruction(4) Architectural Manifestation(5) The Recycling Facility

Sergio Max Legon-Talamoni is motivated by his passion for engaging the complexities of contemporary society through architecture, inherently employing ruthless optimism and diligent rigor, dedicated to a conviction that architecture can awaken people and enrich communities. With a belief in an equitable methodology that is both collaborative and iterative, he recognizes that architecture is accomplished by and for people.

Sergio has secured numerous fellowships, not limited to, teaching Urban Design Theory at the Rome Center for Architecture and Culture and visiting residence participation at the Academy for Architectural Culture in Hamburg, Germany. He received his Certificate of Emphasis in Urban Policy and has accepted several first place awards in Design-Build and Photography competitions. His digital fabrication and computational design experience at The Making Complex, along with his several other exposures has contributed to his professional interest in the leadership of architects in trans-disciplinary and entrepreneurial arenas. Sergio believes that to holistically be prepared for design excellence, we as designers and architects must transcend narcissistic monumentality and mere schematic design and engage with as many disciplines outside of architecture as you can.


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