Shooting Buildings as Sculptures

Internationally recognised photographer and artist Florian 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 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?
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?
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?
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?
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!

Florian’s work is available to purchase as prints from his online store.