ON SOFTNESS: IMAGES & PRESERVATION
The high volume and rapid consumption of visual media circulating in our digital platforms have placed this content in the same playing field as news, reports, and studies that have been peer-reviewed, fact-checked, and corroborated. In this post-truth era, the consumer is constantly faced with the choice of determining what to believe and what to accept as real, evidencing the dwindling capacity of images to preserve the truth.
As architects, we are producers of images: our modes of production lie within the distortive projections of drawings, the rationalizing simplicity of diagrams, and the realism of renderings. Each of these necessitate a translation of the real, suggesting that we are trained to operate within the scope of parafiction. Yet, as a profession, we have decided to stop producing images once the building has been designed or built, seldom engaging in other forms of media through which our buildings are perceived. This is particularly worrisome in regards to building preservation: The public does not understand or value buildings the same way as we do; yet, we fail to communicate it.
By leveraging marketing, photography, and even propaganda, this thesis proposes to insidiously, if not forcefully, insert the image of two endangered buildings – the New Jersey Department of Health and Agriculture buildings – into existing forms of media through which our buildings circulate and gain value, seeking to create a media campaign to advocate for their preservation. The buildings are translated into several artifacts that can be easily consumed by the general public, exploiting existing structures of power and value to shift and influence the public perception of the buildings.