Architecture of Cities: Shapeshifters

Santiago Calatrava Architect: St.Nicholas Greek Orthodox Church and National Shrine. I photographed the church before “September 11th” and made this image recently.

The oasis that was once Africa:

Travel is neither romantic nor adventurous: It is biblical: It is about a past not yet seen. It is about a place known as our plane.: I have grappled with the significance and pleasures of my photography from series and series series of historical compositions and recitations. My mind is filled with dog-eared reminders of where I need to be while history’s moments are still jewels: I am not writing a memoir: My eyes are about my memoirs as moments.

Elsewhere: “If you understood everything I said, you would be me”[Miles Davis].

What happened before history became history.  Before there was a Congo there was a quieter landscape. The recitations of In Paradisium might not have been heard. But what if you dream in loud volumes a bit; What if with a bit of romantic clarity you realize that In Paradisium was possibly the antecedent to “The Saints Come Marching In.” What if you march alone in the footsteps of history’s Kingdom of the Kongo: What if you are the only one who can hear “The Saints…”A past that can transport your dreams and mind across the globe but maybe within a few feet of your front door to discover what you are looking for: not elsewhere but here: I am drawn to the minds’ map of past, present and future reveries.

Jeanne Gang’s Aqua seen in reflection: Chicago.

Anticipation is equal parts a celebration of what your eyes dreamed about: A disappointment that your eyes expectations were not met: I have had so many episodic dreams; and they all suffer the fate of what I was hoping for and the everlasting “is this it”.

We admire discovery for many reasons: Our hearts and minds dream of what it might be like to be first: I have always thought about when people like David Livingstone or Sir Richard Burton arrived at where they wanted to be: It is not their memoirs nor biographies that tell me my truth: it is their eyes revealing every step that led to when they arrived: There can be no measure of how the mind receives the eyes impressions.

When you are alone in mind and place, there is no such thing as an intellectual or emotional  lighthouse warning: I wish there was.

When I am using any type of transportation it invariably means that I am energized by the almost stillness of a sundial: everything in the vicinity of my mind feels like a maelstrom of images and ideas: Nothing is moving as fast as it should: everything is racing by me too fast to appreciate: I am anticipating the unknown experience: I am frightened by the movement of the light of the day: I am frightened by what may become my moment: I am frightened by what failure may feel like: I slap my internal sundial to make certain it is not yet a corpse nor am I.

I have celebrated the idea of elsewhere and the anticipated psychosis that saddles up to my eyes as arrive at what may be.

Philip Johnson’s “Glass House.”

Imagine being embroiled in The Battle of Dorking everyday you mount an offensive to find peace to snap a capture: Fiction, fiction and more fiction lies in my mind as I approach a heralded piece of architecture: So many dreams are ensconced in my mind: So many recordings play round and round in my memories: The minds of generations: Do I remember what what great minds from the architectural design discipline shared with me? Zaha Hadid told me? Do I remember what Jacques Herzog, Kenneth Frampton, Frank Gehry, Oscar Niemeyer, Kengo Kuma and so many shared. Why is it important? Motivation is the accelerant that appeases my angst, and gets me through the anticipation to capture: allows me to capture what I may anticipate.

Renzo Piano’s ‘The Shard” in reflection (ergo the lights in the sky” while waiting for my moment.

Why The Battle of Dorking matters? Because a story about all of our future truths is our “lighthouse warning”: something is out there: It isn’t fortune-telling: Shapeshifters live around us and possibly through us: they disappear into the landscapes and our minds: the camera has to be prepared for how our world is altered before our eyes by all of the natural elements: the world is filled with shapeshifters of every kind: I am prepared to experience the joy of engaging greatness, and the measures of disappointment.

I race to capture the moments: what remains is just that, a moment.

When I am alone in the Kingdom of the Kongo’s valleys and deserts, there is that memoirist’ moment.


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