Adolf Loos once famously praised his own work for its resistance to being captured through photography. To Loos, great architecture has a complexity that eschews compression into two-dimensional media. To assume that a photograph can faithfully represent space is foolish. But is it possible that where photography falls short, video can preserve and deliver? That I'll leave for you to decide, but a recently completed short film on SANAA’s 21st Century Museum of Contemporary Art attests to the ability of film to tease out the essence of a building.
As part of a larger documentary about life in the Japanese seaside town of Kanazawa, Michael Kim’s filmic portrait of the museum focuses not on the form and structure of the building but rather on the architecture’s relationship with site and its interaction with visitors. Though the camera wanders from light, airy spaces into intimate rooms and dark corridors and back, the film also follows visitors, attendants and museum staff, tracking the squeaking of snow boots across the museum floors and capturing a visitor enwrapped in the quietude of Atelier Bow-Wow’s free-standing cylindrical bookshelf. There is a distinctly Japanese quality about the architecture that undoubtedly surfaces in photographs but comes through powerfully in Kim’s masterful orchestration of moving imagery and sound.
(And don’t forget to check out Leandro Erlich’s Swimming Pool installation at 4:19!)