Without Pictorial Detour: Benjamin, Mies and the Architectural Image

Lutz Robbers

Abstract


It can be argued that architectural knowledge was of crucial importance to Walter Benjamin for elaborating his version of an anthropological historical materialism. Between 1929 and 1931 he encounters two publications on architectural history which had a decisive impact on his ensuing works: Sigfried Giedion’s Bauen in Frankreich, Bauen in Eisen, Bauen in Eisenbeton (1928) and Carl Linfert’s Die Grundlagen der Architekturzeichnung (1931). It can be argued that both works played a role in affirming, if not developing his historical method of awakening the dreaming collective into a ‘now of recognisability,’ a method which one can argue is based on a specific image-based epistemology. Especially the architectural image, whether in the form of a printed drawing, photographic illustration, or an actual built object, appears to have been crucial for placing the history of media technologies (architecture being one of these media) in a constellation with the ‘archaic symbol-worlds of mythologies.’ If architecture is, as Benjamin claims in his initial notes for The Arcades Project, ‘the most important testimony to latent “mythology,”’ the architectural image might very well be the agent that causes the moment of awakening, the instance when a constellation between technology and ancient symbol worlds is formed. In the second part of this essay, I will attempt to elaborate such a designation for the specificity of the architectural image by analysing a number of Ludwig Mies van der Rohe’s drawings and collages from the 1920s as architectural images in the Benjaminian sense.


Full Text:

FP18 A3

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.7480/footprint.10.1.976

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