M.Arch in a strange land

Musings on the successes and failures of a graduate architecture student.



Jun '12 - Sep '12

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    Week 65

    Ryan Panos
    Jul 28, '12 7:59 PM EST

    Before there was architecture, for me there was photography. In fact the decision to undertake architecture instead of photography at an undergraduate level was not a matter of philosophy or ideology, it was timing. I had my heart set on either pursuit, I just happen to get the acceptance to architecture school first; it is amazing how fragile journeys can really be, and how many paths there could have been. I do get to use whatever photographic talents I maintained in architecture school but it is limited, so the opportunity to take an intensive two week course on architectural photography this summer was something I was really looking forward to.

    When I was doing photography in high school, it was completely analog, dark rooms with enlargers, chemicals and photo paper. Most of my class time was spent in there, as well as lunches and after school, Mr. James always praised my technical ability, but my subjectivity always fell short, or I how thought about it. I could always compose a good image, develop it, making sure the focus and cropping was in order, but what I was taking photographs of, well that left something to be desired. In fact when I look at my early architecture academic career the how’s take exceedingly more precedents over the why’s. I am working on this to balance out my education but coming from a technical school, my mind is always about the implementation of things first. Even at the crit for the photoset below, contrast and composition was great, but there was a lack of intention or conversation in the photos…

    except the sewer one.

    When I saw it, I knew there is a sense of play, a bit comical or satirical, but mainly it initialized a conversation regarding the purpose of architectural photography. Do we photograph the buildings to show off the architects ideas or show the messy vitality of real life? I think I got lucky with the shot, but it is an image that gets across both of those concepts of architecture photography. More over it is a shot where people can fill in the blanks with what they think is important to architecture and how it should be viewed. For me it brings to mind a quote, the author of it escapes me, but an architectural question that that has no answer only reveals more questions, and maybe that is the best kind of photograph or building.

    “Does the sewer serve the opera, or does the opera serve the sewer?”  

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A week by week journal of the ups and downs of getting through a master of architecture program in Vancouver Canada.

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