Session at College Art Association Annual Meeting, New York City, February 13 - 16, 2019

The association between architecture and photography has been fundamental since the invention of the medium: photographs documented far away architecture, new constructions, and urban transformations. In its documentary function, photography transformed the object, distant in time and space, into an everpresent one. On the one hand, to the Western eye, photography unveiled the temples of Angkor, the adobe of Timbuktu, or the monuments of India, tempering their mythic aura. Looking at it through the lens of Honoré de Balzac’s suggestive theory, photography possibly “removed the layers” of myth from the photographed object (Nadar, 1900). On the other hand, photography reinforced and even created national myths and revivals through the photographic collections of gothic cathedrals, classic architecture, and new constructions and infrastructures. Myths, in the words of Roland Barthes, hide nothing and flaunt nothing: they distort. In this increasing photographic revelation of the world, circulating through popular and academic platforms, how did photography create, maintain, or destroy the mythic quality of architecture? How, from the mid-nineteenth century to today, did the myth of photography distort the reality and the imaginary of the architectural discourse? The session welcomes papers that engage with the relationship between myth and the photography of architecture, broadly defined. Its principal aim is to explore the instrumental agency of photography in the creation and destruction of myths in architectural representation and to understand how such agency shapes the relations among photography, truth, imagination, and architectural narrative.

Please send proposals for a paper including title, abstract (250 words maximum) and CV to