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Sensing Spaces: Viewpoint

Anthony Coleman provides as photographers view of the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy

The great joy of photographing architecture is not only in the pictures you make, but in the excitement of exploring new spaces - not knowing what is around the corner - a sort of mild wanderlust like when you visit a foreign city for the first time.

This is exactly how I felt at the Sensing Spaces exhibition at the Royal Academy. Photography can only go so far in its description of space - one is essentially working with two variables: light and time. And while the right moment can animate the picture, the right composition and lighting can dramatise the space, and the right placing of people in the frame can articulate it, you are still left with a two-dimensional visual medium. Nothing wrong with that of course - but rather than being just purely descriptive good photography, be it architectural or whatever, it should transcend its physicality and stand as something in its own right.

Architecture, however, is something to be experienced rather than looked at. We do after all have a sense of space - and it is exactly this sense that the exhibition is appealing to - creating space for space’s sake. This is architecture in its purest form, freed from the compromises of planners and clients, provoking different emotional responses as you move through the exhibition.

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