Architecture brought to life
Space. Time. These are the dimensions that form our reality. A decade back and in another space, Florian Merdes of OCAP ARCH would become a dear friend to me. He would be the person I turn to with photo questions considering him an expert, especially in the field of conceptual architecture photography. A couple of years down the road his path would cross and continue with photographer Jakob Argauer forming a duo On Cubes And Places – short OCAP. The two have an outstanding eye for portraying places that we walk by every day blindly, just to make them visible to us. They understand the essence of architecture and its meaning from the pedestrian’s as much as from the architect’s view. Like good architecture, their work embraces the context in which buildings are situated, inviting us to stop time and take in the atmosphere of a place for a moment. Somewhere between 2017 and today, and probably between Berlin and Leipzig, they decided to also integrate the concept of passing time in the equation of their architecture images. However, while the media is bombarding us with videos all day long, OCAPs approach to videographing architecture is actually giving us time – as viewers, we are absorbed in the spaces. We are given the perspectives which are revealing to us the beauty of the moment – in places that were made for us, for humans.
“The room is there for the human being – not the human being for the room.” – El Lissitzky
Haus 6, by Sauerbruchhutton
What distinguishes a video of a building from a photograph of a building?
First of all, architecture is no rigid structure. The function of a building lies in how it is used for living, working, playing, celebrating, sleeping, eating, and much more. How can this important aspect of architecture be conveyed through media?
And to return to the initial question: when compared with a still image how much more can video realise when capturing space from a fixed point of view? To begin with, video shows people as mobile actors, as if on a stage. The routes they take, already considered in the planning process and typical of daily use, give the architecture a visual dynamic. This aspect plays a key role in our videos.
The video camera is in this respect a silent observer, which borrows the aesthetics of an architectural photo, and through its temporality, also captures the dynamism and action in the surrounding environment.
When looking at a building, we seek several positions which provide the most interesting spatial viewing angles. If a building is to be experienced and its atmosphere conveyed, this movement in space plays a more important role than in a purely formal aesthetic exercise, which is generally concerned with capturing the one ideal image of the building.
am Lokdepot, by Robert Neun TM
The people moving in and around the building give an impression of its spatial use and enable a better sense of its spatial-architectural context of place. Through their movements, they themselves are part of the architectural whole, along with light, shadow, and influencing weather conditions.
Our videos, therefore, combine distinct photographic angles and points of view, which play a major role in the observation of any building, and the atmosphere and purpose as experienced through the movement of people. Through the use of varied sequences and cuts, the videos can be conceived as a walk through the spatial architectural environment. Despite the fixed camera angles, there is the possibility for many different lines of sight within the ‘moving image’.
By refraining from camera movements, such as panning and zooming, and machine perspectives, such as those of the drone, the architecture is observed from a human perspective. The human perspective is critical for us in our architectural photography. In contrast to an all-encompassing single image that shows the building in its entirety, and therefore complete, we rely on several subjective points of view that allow the building to be wholly experienced.
Futurium, by Richter Musikowski
GUEST ARTICLE AUTHOR: OCAP ARCH
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