aus: Georg Aerni – Slopes & Houses, Wien, 2002
The world’s earliest preserved photograph produced “according to nature” (by Nicéphore Niépce circa 1827) shows the view from a room looking out at the buildings vis-à-vis. Architecture’s motionlessness is by no means the sole reason for its frequent incidence as the subject of nineteenth-century photography. Rather, what was more relevant were man’s interest in the encyclopedic recording of culturally and technologically important architectonic achievements, architecture-historical studies, and travel. Architectural photography was thus mainly used for scientific documentation and the production of tourist postcards. Moreover, architecture was always a welcome occasion to take “independent” photographs, whereby in the beginning artistic merit was less than pronounced. With the technology-and progress-impassioned modernist movement, which worshiped that which was functional, dynamic, and free of ornament, industrial buildings became a new motif from the early twentieth century on (Albert Renger-Patzsch and Walker Evans). The objective, serial style of Bernd and Hilla Becher, who have been photographing various building types of our industrial culture since the end of the fifties, is influential today far beyond their circle of students at the Düsseldorf Kunstakademie – e.g. Thomas Ruff, Thomas Struth, Candida Höfer, Boris Becker.
At the present time we note that predominantly quotidian architecture – unpopulated, as in former times – is being photographed, so that the focus is less on the building itself and more on artistic expression. Thus, for example, some artists draw our attention to the surface of the façades and to details (Heidi Specker and Jörg Sasse). Others address the reality content of the images and the construction of reality: using their own handmade models (Oliver Boberg and Thomas Demand), employing digital processing (Andreas Gursky) or pure computer simulation (Martin Dörbaum). Georg Aerni, by contrast, takes a different stance, in which he analyzes the city structures and studies the specific features of a site.