Big, Vast, Powerful, and Contemporary: Picturing Education in LA
Isn’t it is the task of the photographer…to reveal the guilty and to point out the guilty in his pictures? --Walter Benjamin
To photograph architecture as the designer envisions is an outmoded practice. An architect’s attempt to resist or guide criticism by presenting their work devoid of the complexity of everyday life is no longer convincing. The work of Monica Nouwens inspires new direction for architectural photography. Her photographs provide critical edge, without the kitsch of a designer’s staging or rhetoric; her contemporary flare reveals an optical unconscious through stunning images that provoke understanding of the relationships between real buildings, people, and their urban atmosphere.
As a metropolitan flâneur with distance from her subjects, Nouwens casts architecture in a most compelling light. As German literary critic Walter Benjamin well understood, the city is like a crime scene in need of profane illumination through photography. Nouwen’s photographic research in Los Angeles, challenges the effects that recent school revitalization projects have had on the everyday lives of its city residents. Nouwen’s images reveal schools that create a training ground for the next generation through big, vast, powerful and contemporary building structures.
Stephen Phillips, AIA is a practicing California architect, theorist, and scholar. He is principal architect in the firm Stephen Phillips Architects (SPARCHS), a Visiting Assistant Professor in Architecture History and Theory at the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), Assistant Professor of Design at California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo, and a PhD Candidate at Princeton University School of Architecture.