Architecture of Cities: the Irony of Bears

One World Trade Center.

Based on a True Story.

Sometimes you don’t know where you are until you stand alone, there.

The Baltic Sea I stood with: I thought about all of the nations that rest ashore: I dreamed about the serenity and volatile currents that travel from shore to shore: I remembered where I had landed before and yesterday.

The Baltic is home for some: I remember when for a mere five minutes I could translate the languages of many tongues, and then none: My captures have danced lightly over Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Russia, Germany and of course Latvia.

I heard a sound as I stood facing the past and with luck a bit of my futures: “Bear”.  I kept to myself for a bit. I was a guest among others: There was a stir.  There was some running towards the transport. I looked and saw a black shape. In my funny hindsight it reminded me of Frank Gehry. Maybe because so many refer to Frank as a “teddy bear”. I realized a black bear was on the move: I was chased for a mere few seconds along the Latvian coast. He ran; I ran. Here I am.

One Liberty Plaza New York City.

That is how it can be when you travel alone. I have landed where the bears are profoundly home to a few billion Chinese, one hundred and fifty million Russians, and possibly fifty million Californians. Symbolism reigns: I want my photographs to remind me of the places and the experiences: a bear chasing me across a beach towards the forest: or maybe the mere fact that I am landing and have landed where the architecture lures my cameras.

I travel from country to country city to city rural outback to places further than my imagination will allow. My experiences appear to have become like dots connected along a languid serpentine line: Espied from above; drawn on earth alone.

Finding new destinations.

The architecture that I see enlightens me: lights the way.  It is magical to unload my mind on a unique capture. No matter the noise that surrounds me there is simply a peace that I use to make a space seem right.

I have always dreamed. My mind has always needed to be rescued. The intimacy of voices. Those who have invited me into their home. There are some who wanted me to hear their voices: to embolden my captures; To rescue me from my dreams.

Wherever I have been my eyes are often interrupted by what the picture should look like. Then as if in a Greek tragedy: The chorus saves me: The chorus has mostly been about the voices who have invited me to listen in their home: Oscar Niemeyer, Philip Johnson, Paulo Mendes and Richard Rogers come to mind. The giants didn’t merely allow me to take some portraits: Their voices invited me into their world if only for a few hours: a few moments:

I share the above because whether it be those particular Pritzker Prize recipients or others, when I am alone in front of any assignment or happenstance,  I evolve into a into a character with many heads and several sets of eyes. I refer to the many intimate voices for a bit more clarity.

The Baltic: Alone by the sea is where I have sat many times not merely waiting for inspirations but mostly an appreciation for the privilege. It is an absolute privilege to interpret the built environment across countries and beyond. The dreams are relentlessly intertwined into my realities: oh what a pleasurable nightmare of trysts this journey has been.

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