Invisible Cities: creating atmospheres through imagery

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Invisible Cities: creating atmospheres through imagery

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Within every physical city there are countless invisible cities that exist as perceptions of our environment. Invisible cities are atmospheric qualities that can be experienced by simplifying and removing context around the given subject and focusing on one particular quality. These atmospheres can then be developed and purified in order to breathe life into architecture all around us. Using perceptions, passages in Italo Calvino's Invisible Cities begin with objective descriptions of each city, but end with latent realizations of each place. This thesis seeks to use a similar lens to explore a variety of photographers that create architecture through imagery that includes Bernd and Hilla Becher, Andreas Gursky, Irene Kung, and Aitor Ortiz. These photographers use extensive manipulation effects in order to create a common architectural affect, a sense of monumentality de-contextualized with its surroundings. Through my travels abroad I have used photography to document additional atmospheres and have applied the comparison technique used by the Bechers, which highlights what is similar and what is different between adjacent photos. This thesis seeks to challenge the notion that plans and sections are required to create architecture, focusing instead on a series of moments, places, and atmospheres that are akin to photography.


Submitted under the supervision of Ozayr Saloojee to the University Honors Program at the University of Minnesota-Twin Cities in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Bachelor Science, summa cum laude in architecture. With further assistance from Dr. Kris Mun, Christian Korab, and Jeff Millikan.

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University of Minnesota Honors Program College of Design School of Architecture

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Hunt, Adam. (2016). Invisible Cities: creating atmospheres through imagery. Retrieved from the University Digital Conservancy,

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