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Here’s the interview:
Internationally recognised photographer and artist Florian W. Mueller‘s work is a celebration of all things worldly and unusual, from tentacles to mountain ranges. Going by the online moniker ISO 74 – commemorating his passion for photography and the year of his birth – this Cologne-based photographer’s ongoing series Singularity is a minimalist celebration of global architecture as sculpture.
Working mostly with Nikon D800E, Nikon D810, and a couple of lenses (mainly 50mm, 35mm and the 12-24mm from Nikon in Singularity), Florian isolates buildings from their thrumming urban environments and puts them on a blue-sky pedestal – an aesthetic choice that takes a lot of patience, and occasionally a little help from post-production.
“The buildings have to have a little ‘something’ for me. That can be their facade, their shape, or their charisma,” Florian explains. We of course wanted to hear more from this fellow archi-holic about the charismatic nature of architecture, and its pairing with strict minimalism.
The Plus: Architecture photography is a specialty of yours, what attracts you to it?
Florian W. Mueller: For me architecture is a kind of sculpture. In the 70′s there was this amazing trend in Brutalism, like the churches from architect Gottfried Böhm, made of concrete – the origin of that movement’s name: French “concrete brut”, raw concrete. Then you have buildings in that wonderful clean, function-oriented bauhaus style, and in the former German Democratic Republic the very reduced “Plattenbauten”. For me as a photographer, all these buildings are artworks. In Singularity I reduced the buildings to themselves. Like a sculpture on a pedestal in a clean gallery or museum.
TP: You explain that your stripped-back style invites the viewer to reflect – what kind of reflection to you think Singularity invites?
FWM: It depends… Architecture photography and this very minimalistic style might not invite the viewer to reflect on anything, it might just be a good catalyst for rest. Some pictures in this ongoing series do raise questions: what does the neighbourhood look like? What about the other buildings?
TP: Where are the buildings that we do see? What made them in particular jump out at you?
FWM: I take a lot of pictures when I am on the road. You can imagine what a guy with a weakness for architecture often shoots? Right, buildings. To be honest, I started this series playing around with a couple of pictures I took in New York last November, and instantly fell in love with that reduced look. I crawled though my archive of the last two years and found more candidates for the series from Hong Kong, England, Spain, France and Germany. Before I go on the road now I research the area, looking for buildings that might fit into Singularity. Google Earth is a good buddy for that…
TP: Given your aesthetic reduction of busy urban architecture – are you more of a
country or a city boy?
FWM: Both. I need nature to relax and the city to give my mind “food”. When I am in Manhattan or Hong Kong, for example, I am overwhelmed with the noise, the tangle and the rumble, the smells and the restlessness. And I like it. I breathe it in. I swim with the crowd, for a certain amount of time. Then I have to rest my soul. Best for me is a rugged kind of nature – hiking is a great way of refocusing yourself.
TP: “Singularity”: why this title?
FWM: From the Latin “singularis”, individually, separately; plus it means something remarkable or unusual; plus a singularity is a point in space-time, at which matter has infinite density and infinitesimal volume, and the curvature of space-time is infinite, such as a black hole. How cool is that!