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The Optical Truth Status of Architecture

Part 1 Dissertation 2007
Andrew Diggle
University of Lincoln Lincoln UK
This dissertation explores the conceptual basis of the photographic image in the representation of architecture, the gallery context and architectural discourse. Commenting on the photographs of Bernd and Hilla Becher, Thomas Demand and Josef Schulz I argue that the canonical works of modern architecture relied upon the perceived optical truth of photography as a means of communicating architectural intention, attempting a closure of meaning through which a ‘true’ representation of architecture could be reached. This reliance went hand-in-hand with the emergence of certain discursive spaces, such as academic journals, architectural periodicals and architectural history texts which sought to place photographs into a highly objectified context.

Continuing the discussion, I maintain that the postmodern critique of this practice of objectification is found in the gallery context, through the work of photographers who seek to prove the subjectivity of the photographic image through incorporation of incongruous errors and digital image manipulation. This critique is symptomatic of a wider break in the perceived causal relationship between object and representation brought about by postmodern uncertainty and digitisation.

Andrew Diggle


Andrew Diggle tackles the topic of his dissertation, the Optical Truth Status of Architecture, with the appetite of somebody genuinely enamoured with his subject matter, photography, and the restraint necessary to construct a coherent, well argued and, above all, at all stages relevant piece of text. Case studies are carefully chosen, and the dangers of reducing the public function of art destined for public consumption to dry subjects of analysis are successfully circumnavigated. As a result, the thesis reads as competent, highly condensed and intelligent, never losing focus on its architectural relevance.

2007
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