The Architecture of Cities: a Bit of Fantasy

How I see architecture every day.

There are the …ings ( buzzing, stunning, and living) that some may imagine. Then there are the …y’s (Dreamy, beauty and fantasy) that might come to mind.

There were two naked bumble bees inside of a lab Petri dish. Their furs had fallen along their backsides as they seemed to expose their nakedness: This was the bee hazard: a form of dancing that appeared to be about twirling around a maypole: This was a moment of natural erotica not yet seen by this human eye.

I have made portraits of a number of scientists: Some “Nobel’s” and other extraordinary characters: But the one who remains a fixture in my mind is Geerat J. Vermeij, a Paleoecologist and Evolutionary Biologist: When I sat my camera down to listen to his dreams that were realities I began to understand what seeing means in life and photography: Seeing is a way of participating in the minutiae and the universes’ collective of galaxies:

Geerat is blind: His brain had a pyrotechnic event as a young boy: he lost his sight but transferred the senses to his brain and beyond: He can land in almost any part of the world and grab a seashell among the oceans wake and identify the seashell and the geography he postures in.

Moynihan Station, New York City.

Photographing someone who is blind is a fairly facile assignment: Then you must try and understand: There is no truth to “an easy” photograph: Blind or not, who are they, and what are they trying to say is a human condition still too complicated to master with my camera.

The funny sad reality of my photography is that my mind lives among an abundance of hives: I am listening and looking for direction: Directions that are manipulated by the way sounds drive the camera to pay attention: Directions on where to look:

No structure living within the tiniest or most gigantic footprint is literally sitting there by itself: Waiting for its closeup, waiting to be  discovered.  To make something awaken within your camera frame: there is  extensive existential investigation: an examination of the existing  properties: One must discover what should remain in the frame.

It is possible to imagine walking in the shadows of Beatrice Potter:  She was and possibly remains the caped queen of fairy tales. She enthusiastically nailed the grooves of the mushrooms/fungi natural habitat: Hustling with intellectual clarity she made drawings that fascinated and lived like a  metaphor for a life not experienced: The world is colored: My world is filled with color: there is a bit of fantasia in my everyday if I allow for it.

My camera mounts an assault on a image to be made: Like the Potter tales  collectively living among the masses of nature’s realities: architecture lives amongst us with tales of equal history and mystery.

Kengo Kuma’s Tokyo: A view from a Kengo Kuma Building.

I think about those tales and where they for me originated:  possibly retreating back to my very first  time on rue de bac in Paris: I stood nestled between the curvature of the street and the ( DEYROLLE, a Parisian cabinet of curiositiesDeyrolle › products › deyrolle-a-cabinet-of-c… ) Deyrolle taxidermy display of creatures that will never breathe or walk again. The windows that are home to the natural and unnatural like the Glasgow Hunterian: Or maybe the  Ponte Nossa Church where a five-hundred year old crocodile dangles from the rafters:  (The Hunterian – University of GlasgowUniversity of Glasgow › hunterian   Crocodile at the Santuario Madonna delle Lacrime …Atlas Obscura › places › crocodile-at-the-…

Meeting up with such magnificence is a pronounced celebration: Pieces of history’s natural order or nature’s  Darwinian lineage,  is still  never a eureka moment, but a powerful quiet understanding of what my camera must see going forward.

If you are looking at architecture any other way than a biological examination of the planet, then you might be  missing the essence of not just the built environment, but the biological design of our lives, our cities: The cities are mechanisms: they function as a place like a hive: the buzzing is quite frightening and joyous: The life we engage from street to street: boulevards to the highways is what maintains for me a certain amount of sanity: It ain’t “Walden: but maybe something more reflective of who we are who we were and who we might become.

I see pictures and what I want from them: Cities shape architecture: architecture shapes cities: In the end, I dream that I will remain hopelessly curious.

New York: The French Building.

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