The Architecture of Cities: Vienna Waltz

Gasometer by Wolf Prix, Vienna.

I write to remember that I have a memory. My memories are what I remember.

The things I have seen, fade into black. My mind is triggered: I play a lonesome game of charades to remember yesterday: A name or place are offered: My mind becomes unabridged and open to past dreams.

I am actually riding this overnight car having no recollection of where I have been. I had no processed film to analyze: I just had an empty data bank from yesterday.

I tried to retrace my steps: I know I had spent a London morning with the architect Richard Rogers: I know I had spent a nanosecond with Rotterdam’s Rem Koolhaas: My time in Paris was spent partially with Dominique Perrault: At one moment I had photographed Jean Nouvel’s Fondation Cartier: I remember looking at Sarah Moons’ photography exhibition. A miasma of names and places has blinded my sight and everything in my mind: I celebrate and blame the hundreds of architects who have opened their doors for my camera: The hundreds of architects who have pointed me towards what structures are by them and for us: Every day my camera turns a corner: Every day this world of architecture opens up to new vistas and experiences: My train ferries along: the darkness blackens. It is like being enrapt in a Space Shuttle launch without a control panel: The natural darkness suggests light is near: I am ignorant of outer space’s constellation of stars: I begin to exit the train’s tunnel: the darkness still blinds me: I may be glimpsing the North Star or the Austrian Neuschwanstein Castle silhouettes of spires: I am somewhere: Maybe there is a bit of Hipparchus in me: The stars prompted me to see darkness fading into light: So much delirium: so much fantasia: are we in Disneyland or is that really The Third Man’s Orson Welles. We pull up to the Vienna Hauptbahnhof: the main railway hub.

Haas-Haus by Hans Hollein, Vienna.

Oh Vienna:

The opportunity to photograph Austrias’ Hans Hollein and Wolf Prix allowed my mind to visit with some of my favorite ghosts: I paid my respects to the sounds of Mozart: I laid my eyes on some delicious Klimts: I listened to what Freud might have suggested as peregrine feathers accompanied me around the maypole: My first maypole was put upon me somewhere between the ages of six and twelve: I dance to different tunes today:  I was clearly in step with Viennese eyes upon me: If my memory serves: From where Hans Hollein’s Haas-Haus to Wolf Prix’s Gasometer I danced: The names of streets gave me pause, gave me pleasure: The five miles distance seemed to last a few minutes on foot: I walked more than an hour: I just imagined a world not mine.

Gasometer by Wolf Prix, Vienna.

The aesthetic that lives in my eyes never knows what to make of the word important: I see later in history that sometimes the built structure may or may not be the best or most important of what the architect has to offer: Yet there is still a moment for the architect that the said building, portrays powerful significance. Their reputations prominently established: There is still or always: ”but what do people think”.

I respect the purpose of what is built: I respect the agenda for what the architect has accomplished:“Snippety-snap-snap”, my eyes capture something: Something certainly more important for me than the architect.The music plays, history and modernity happily clash: To this day I am still uncertain about what Austrians prefer: Modernity and history are not merely a clash of styles but a meeting of the souls: The comforts of what we knew the feisty manner of what may be: The dance is for me in Vienna: It is a ballroom of chance discoveries and beautiful serendipitous thrills: It is Vienna.

Haas-Haus by Hans Hollein, Vienna.

All photos by Richard Schulman.

Richard Schulman is a photographer and writer. His books include Portraits of the New Architecture and Oxymoron & Pleonasmus. He lives in New York City.