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The Image as an architectural material

By John Macarthur


There is at present a fashion for the application of images onto building facades. The most common line of comment on this phenomenon is to fetishize "the image". According to such accounts, images have changed their status or locale, and become monstrous hybrids of human consciousness and the Internet. They have come to be on buildings through some will or teleology of their own, lessening the materiality of building and threatening the culture of architecture. Or so the story goes. Few remark on another obvious aspect of this trend, which is that of the relatively recent availability and rapid uptake of the technical means for the application of images onto buildings. As early as the nineteen forties, J L Sert, F Leger and S Geidion were calling for a new civic iconography of kinetic sculpture, which was to include fireworks and large-scale projection and murals. None of this was very practical, however, until the last few years when mega-screens and large-scale banner printing became available. Similarly, we have only recently gone beyond nineteenth century techniques in the etching of images into glass and masonry. To a certain extent, these two observations reverberate within the work of Walter Benjamin and his famous attempt to argue at a most general level for an interrelation of histories of technology and mentality

Topics: images, projection, building facades, 310000 Architecture, Urban Environment and Building
Publisher: Duke University Press
Year: 2002
DOI identifier: 10.1215/00382876-101-3-673
OAI identifier:

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