Saturday, January 16, 2010

Vertical Poché

Top: from The Searchers (dir. John Ford, 1956); Middle: from Kill Bill Vol. 2 (dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2004); Bottom, from Inglourious Basterds (dir. Quentin Tarantino, 2009).

More traditional forms of architectural representation use black and white to suggest differences in spatial articulations. On the one hand, Giambattista Nolli's figure-ground drawing of Rome features alternating fields of dark and white space to distinguish between architectural objects and their immediate urban context. Beaux-Arts drawing techniques, on the other hand, emphasized the use of blackened poché to distinguish between the solidity of walls and columns and the (white) space inside a building. What connects these two modes of representation is their familiarity as ways of depicting architectural and urban objects in plan.

Cinema transcends such preoccupations with the horizontal plane. And yet there are some instances where directors use something approximating the architectural poche as a way of delimiting visual fields within a frame. The above images demonstrate this idea. All are taken ostensibly from within a house. In each, the camera eye is on axis with the door. The viewer's eye tracks through the space of the house, though the door, and into a space that is as boundless as the architecture is constricting. Architecture here is rendered as shadow—a kind of vertical or elevational poche that does nothing to articulate volumetric complexities between spaces. Thanks to differences in lighting, there is no sense of the thickness of walls. The use of black only deemphasizes foreground in favor of background. It's not that the architecture becomes fleeting. Far from it—each frame is dominated by a massive field of black. In a sense, architecture dominates each frame. In vertical, then, the figure-ground relationship is maintained. Yet the light beyond, the brilliant landscapes in the distance, become more important. A different relationship between the architectural object and its context begins to take hold. The two are collapsed on the space of the vertical screen.


professional photo editing said...

Really interesting article. All I ever thought was that it was an easy way to frame an image and raw attention to the subject!

photo retouching said...

I am great fan of that sort of stuff, all i have to say its superb.